The chart below has been produced from data freely available in the public domain.
The data is complete to the end of 2013, the last full calendar year for which DfT accident statistics are available. It illustrates, albeit on different axes and using different scales, several measurements of activity related to accidents and claims.
Each dataset will have its own flaws (for example, the Claims Portal Co data for 2010 is for an incomplete year) but taken together they create a fairly strong picture.
The downward trend for road accident fatalities shows the success of sustained road safety campaigns and has to be welcomed. Non-fatal casualties show a similar trend. The level of traffic miles has remained broadly the same, so the very clear conclusion is that the UK’s roads are now far safer than they were in 2000.
Two dates, some eight years apart, may be worth noting when reflecting on the claims data. These are set out in the passages below, taken from House of Commons Library Note SN/HA/6015 which was updated in March this year.
From its page 5:
“In March 2004, the Solicitors’ Conduct Rules were amended to allow solicitors to pay referral fees. This followed a report by the Office of Fair Trading, published in 2001, Competition in professions, which considered that the ban on referral fees at that time might be hampering (among other things) the development of an online marketplace that could bring clients and solicitors together.”
And from its front page
“Since 1 April 2013, it has been a regulatory offence (rather than a criminal offence) to pay or receive referral fees in personal injury cases. The law was changed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). This ban applies to regulated persons including solicitors, barristers, legal executives and claims management companies, and to insurers.”
While there are a wide range of factors that influence road accident claims frequency, it is nevertheless striking that the nine-year period of permitted referral fees coincides exactly with a sustained increase in motor injury claims which, on this evidence at least, doubled over that period.
Ensure you are kept up to date with the latest legal updates and event invitations by registering your details with BLM – click here to register.
About the Author
Alistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.
Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.
He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).