MPs debate access to justice and ‘whiplash’ – 11 January 2017

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.

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Ministerial unity on claims reform

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

De minimis non curat lex? Er, oh yes it does…

The Latin maxim has it that law does not concern itself with small things. Well, lawyers certainly concern themselves with “small claims” at the moment, with the question of the applicable small claims limit for injury cases never far from debate as we await concrete proposals following the announcement, now nearly six months ago in the Autumn Statement, that the Government wants to raise it to £5,000. The matter is the subject of a House of Commons briefing paper, issued on 3 May 2016, which considers the current financial limits for claims in the small claims track and examines both previous and current proposals for increasing them. Continue reading