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Ministers to consult on raising personal injury small claims limit

1 May 2012

The government is to launch a consultation on raising the small claims limit, currently £1,000, for personal injury cases.

Justice secretary Ken Clarke announced in February the increase in the limit for other cases from £5,000 to £10,000, but personal injury cases did not feature (see solicitorsjournal.com, 9 February 2012).

Instead the MoJ said: “There will be no change to the current limit for personal injury and housing disrepair claims.”

Abigail Plenty, deputy director of civil justice and legal services at the Ministry of Justice, confirmed the rethink at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum in London this morning.

Plenty said the extension in the limit on RTA portal cases, from £10,000 to £25,000, and the inclusion of employer’s and public liability cases, would be implemented in April 2013, at the same time as the LASPO changes.

In a separate development, Plenty said the “extremely tight” financial settlement imposed on the MoJ meant that it was not possible to find a lump sum to invest in IT in the county courts.

“I am not aware that we will be investing in any IT systems for the time being, but that is not to say we will not in the longer term,” she said.

She was responding to a question from Sir Henry Brooke, who retired from the Court of Appeal in 2006 and was chairman of the Civil Mediation Council until January this year.

Sir Henry produced a report on the county courts in 2008, which recommended increasing the financial limit for county court claims from £25,000 to £100,000 and its equity jurisdiction from £30,000 to £350,000, as the government is now proposing.

He said that during the writing of his report he was “struck by the enormous paper mountain” that the courts were struggling with, but governments had “refused to put in the investment” into IT.

“With these new business centres, are we going to continue with paper going here, there and everywhere?” he asked. “Or is there investment built into the plans to allow the courts to handle these cases by electronic means, rather than on paper?”

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