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MoJ announces new court rules for whiplash claims

Rules set to limit the scope of medical evidence and discourage 'pre-med' offers

5 August 2014

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The government's latest measures to combat dishonest whiplash claims is to cut the fees for medical reports, according to a press statement published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The announcement of the changes comes from the justice secretary Chris Grayling who has vowed to tackle insurance fraud and 'turn the tide on the growing compensation culture'.

This is despite recent calls from practitioners and ministers for the lord chancellor to accept that such a culture is not as prevalent as the government makes out.

Grayling said: "Honest drivers have been bearing the cost of a system that has been open to abuse and it is time for a change. We are determined to have an improved, robust system for medical evidence - so genuine claims can still be settled but fraud is driven out of the market."

The new rules that come into effect from October will mean medical professionals can only charge £180 for an initial whiplash report, down from the current upper limit of £700, which is meant to reflect the real time taken to carry out and write the assessments.

Several other measures will also come into effect through new court rules, including the introduction of an expectation that medical evidence will be limited to a single report and, when appropriate, allowing defendants to give their account of the incident directly to the medical expert.

Insurers will be discouraged from settling whiplash claims without a medical report confirming the claimant's injury.

Furthermore, those experts who produce medical reports will be barred from also offering treatment to the injured claimant to ensure there is no incentive for them to encourage unnecessary treatment.

In a letter attached to Mr Grayling's announcement, justice minister Lord Faulks said that the government retained its belief that pre-medical offers should be banned: "This is a difficult issue and a new rule alone is not enough to address this particular problem. The rules are being amended to strongly discourage this practice and the MoJ intends to continue to work with the industry on further ways to tackle this issue effectively."

John Spencer, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) told SJ: "A thorough medical examination of the claimant, a review of his medical history and a detailed report will help both deter fraudulent and exaggerated claims and ensure genuine people are given the correct amount of compensation for their injuries.

"If insurance companies are only discouraged from settling cases without medical evidence, the government will have missed an opportunity to seriously challenge fraudulent and exaggerated claims," he said.

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