Law Society Chief Executive speaks out against dangerous Government proposals
Chief Executive of the Law Society, Catherine Dixon, has spoken out against the Government’s shocking proposals to raise the small claims track limit in personal injury claims to £5,000 and to ban lower value whiplash claims altogether.
Ms Dixon cites a number of reasons, many of which I have raised in my earlier blog, such as:
Inequality of arms – wealthy insurance companies have contract deals with defendant law firms so they can use them to defend/dispute cases whereas the injured person is unlikely to be able to afford legal help, and that serious injuries such as facial scarring can be valued below £5,000 and so it will not just be very minor injuries that people will be left unable to seek help with – it will include more serious injuries also.
Ms Dixon describes the proposals as:
“…a further devastating blow to UK justice and would hit the most vulnerable in society.”
A number of previous governments have considered the issue and have sensibly rejected the notion of raising the level to £5,000, recognising the serious harm this would cause to access to justice.
An interesting question therefore is what makes this Government different? How is the current Conservative Government able to ignore social rights/access to justice issues previous governments have felt unable to?
With the only potential benefit to the public being the possibility of a £40.00 or so reduction in their insurance premium (which will not be policed or monitored) one has to question who is actually pushing for these reforms? If the purpose of a Government is to enact the will of the people then who is it amongst the public who are volunteering to surrender such fundamental legal rights, potentially permanently, for the possibility of £40.00?
Since the reforms were announced I have tried asking members of the public without links to the profession whether they would prefer to retain these legal rights or have the £40/£50 instead. To date 100% have told me they would prefer to keep their legal rights.
If not the public, or the legal profession, who then is pressing for these changes?
By James Winterbottom, Solicitor