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Limiting access to justice is ‘unfair’, says public

Government ministers risk eroding basic Magna Carta rights with personal injury plans

27 April 2016

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Government plans to limit compensation for injuries in road traffic accidents are not backed by a majority of the public.

A survey commissioned by Access2Justice (A2J), a body which is campaigning against the plans, showed that 57 per cent of respondents described the proposals backed by insurers as either 'unfair' or 'very unfair'.

Some 22 per cent did not know either way, while 21 per cent thought the plans were fair.

In his 2015 Autumn Statement, the chancellor, George Osborne, announced that personal injury claims valued up to £5,000 would be heard in a small claims court, with the injured parties risking the loss of up to 50 per cent of their compensation to cover legal costs.

Furthermore, claimants would no longer receive cash settlement for pain and suffering caused for minor soft tissue injuries, although they would be able to claim for physiotherapy treatment and loss of earnings.

According to the survey, one-quarter of respondents said they would not pursue a claim, while just under one-third were unsure whether they would bring a claim, if the proposed changes become law.

A further one-quarter of the public would pursue the claim without legal representation, it was found.

Ahead of the government's a much-delayed consultation exercise, A2J spokesperson Andrew Twambley said the findings showed the public were worried about access to justice being removed.

'Insurers have lobbied hard for these reforms because they will save money at the expense of people who have been injured by the actions of their policyholders,' he said.

'It seems clear that government ministers have been lobbied by the insurance industry into a potentially damaging erosion of basic rights, that go back to Magna Carta.

'It shows that access to justice - a basic British right - would be slashed for 60 million people. The only winners would be insurers and their shareholders.

Twambley continued: 'We will fight these proposals tooth and nail, and we believe we have the support not only of the public, but also of many parliamentarians, including the powerful Transport Select Committee, which advised against such a move when it investigated whiplash in 2013.'

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