The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ (APIL) annual conference ends today, 18 April 2018, with what looks to be a timely “Law Reform and litigation update” session covering the discount rate, clinical negligence, small claims, court reforms and gastric illness. The keynote address yesterday was delivered by MoJ Minister Lord Keen, who touched on most of these topics in his speech. It is understood he did not take questions after the speech and left very promptly.
The MoJ has just released Lord Keen’s speech on civil justice reform and while it is worth reading, it really does not say anything new about the Government’s reform agenda and its preferred timetable for change.
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 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