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Limitation of £5,000 PI claims ‘totally unacceptable’, says Law Society

Government proposals 'completely undermine the right of ordinary citizens to receive full and proper compensation'

26 November 2015

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The Law Society has fired back at newly unveiled plans to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000 and stop compensation payments for 'minor' soft tissue injuries.

Law Society President Jonathan Smithers is 'gravely concerned' the proposals could stop compensation payments for road traffic 'minor' soft tissue injuries.

'[The proposals] will completely undermine the right of ordinary citizens to receive full and proper compensation from those that have injured them through negligence,' he said.

'These proposals will stop people obtaining legal advice for all personal injury claims below £5,000 and stop people claiming for often debilitating injuries arising from road traffic accidents if these injuries are considered minor.'

Smithers commented there was a fivefold increase in the present level of cases currently within the small claims procedure, benefiting those who have negligently harmed people and resulting in more people trying to work their way through a complex court system without any legal advice.

'People recovering from their injuries will have to bring claims as litigants in person (without any legal advice) and this can be very unfair because those defending the claims can often afford to pay for legal advice,' added Smithers.

'This therefore undermines ordinary people's ability to access justice. Especially if defendants simply deny liability forcing people to fight through the courts without legal help.'

Smithers said personal injury claims, even lower value claims, can include serious injuries arising from the fault of an employer or other road traffic accidents where legal rights can be very complex and the injuries caused debilitating.

'A new limit of £5,000 will mean personal injuries including facial scarring would be considered as "small claims". This is totally unacceptable.'

The society's president also refuted the proposition that these proposals are about stopping fraudulent claims.

'Fraudulent claims are clearly repellent but they should be dealt with by targeting the fraudsters and not the vast majority of honest claimants who have been injured and bring genuine claims,' he said.

The Law Society said it awaits further detail on the proposals and would respond to the consultation robustly.

Laura Clenshaw is managing editor of Solicitors Journal

@L_Clenshaw

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