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Personal injury reform announced

On 23 February 2017 the Ministry of Justice issued its response to the swift 7 week consultation it held on reforming the soft tissue injury claims…

On 23 February 2017 the Ministry of Justice (“MOJ”) issued its response to the swift 7 week consultation it held on reforming the soft tissue injury claims process. As anticipated, the MOJ has been tough on ‘whiplash’ RTA claims but has made some concessions, implementing a tariff for damages for whiplash injuries sustained following a road traffic accident as opposed to an outright ban. All whiplash injuries lasting less than 24 months will fall within the new increased small claims track (“SCT”) limit of £5,000, although it is not currently clear what this will mean in terms of recoverable costs.

The SCT for all other personal injury claims has also increased but only to £2,000 meaning that the overwhelming majority of disease claims will remain unaffected by these reforms.

The increase to the SCT will be implemented via statutory instrument; however the other reforms surrounding whiplash claims require primary legislation and will be contained within the Prisons and Courts Reform Bill. Likely implementation for this is October 2018. What is not yet known is whether the MOJ will implement the SCT and the whiplash reforms at the same time.

The MOJ is also working with Claims Portal Limited and MedCo to develop mechanisms to assist litigants in person to bring their claim directly due to the rise in the SCT and will release their views in due course.

The key features of the reforms are:

  1. an increase to the SCT in RTA personal injury claims to £5,000; and
  2. an increase to the SCT in all other personal injury claims to £2,000; and
  3. a tariff of fixed compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash claims (defined as neck and upper torso only) with a duration of 0-24 months; and
  4. an ability for the judiciary to decrease the tariff in the event of contributory negligence or to increase the tariff by up to 20% in exceptional circumstances; and
  5. a ban on offering, requesting, and accepting pre-med offers.