Yesterday’s budget marks just over two years since former Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his 2015 Autumn Statement, significant reforms to damages for whiplash claims and five-fold increase in the small claims limit for road traffic injury cases. Material released by the Treasury yesterday appears to indicate that Government expects to implement these reforms before April 2019.
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.
“The Government is determined to crack down on the compensation culture and has announced reforms, including raising the small claims limit, to tackle the problem … [and] will consult on the detail of these reforms in due course, with a view to implementing them as soon as the necessary legislation is in place.”
The two passages above are taken from separate answers to PQs given very recently by Treasury and Justice Ministers. The full text of both answers is set out in the body of this post.
The comments clearly show that both departments and both ministers remain committed to the general damages and small claims reforms set out in the 2015 Autumn Statement.
Consultation on these measures is expected to commence sometime after the European referendum on 23 June. That said, the Government’s legislative and policy priorities could change should the decision of the electorate be for the UK to leave the EU.
Those following the EU debate on reform closely may spot that the ministers who are united here on claims reform nevertheless find themselves on opposing sides of the European question. Continue reading