Debates in Westminster Hall take place away from the main Commons chamber and generally serve to raise awareness of the subject matter. Access to justice, debated this Wednesday, is an important topic, covering current MoJ “whiplash reforms” (small claims limit for personal injuries and general damages for minor soft tissue injuries) as well as employment tribunal fees, legal aid and court closures.
The Ministry of Justice will conclude its long-standing review of the discount rate used to calculate personal injury awards by 31 January 2017. This news appeared at 07:00 this morning with the Ministry releasing a regulatory news story on the London Stock Exchange’s news feed. The full text of the RNS may be found here
As that piece recognises, there could be “profound financial consequences of even a marginal change to the discount rate.” Perhaps this passage may hint at why advance notice of a mainstream policy announcement about personal injury law was made via the Stock Exchange rather than the via MoJ’s press office?
Sir Rupert Jackson’s pithy foreword to his 2009 review of costs described his reforms as “a coherent package” designed to control litigation costs in civil claims. Most aspects of that package were implemented in April 2013.
As noted already on this blog, Jackson is now conducting a further enquiry into widening the scope of fixed recoverable legal costs and is seeking evidence and views by mid January 2017. His deadline more or less coincides with that set out in the Government’s latest ‘whiplash’ reforms – making for a busy Christmas and New Year for those of us working in this field.