4 December 2014
Jackson has improved access to justice, says Parker
Parker: reforms “won’t do much to tackle claims inflation”
Andrew Parker, the former president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) who was one of Lord Justice Jackson’s assessors, claimed this week that “despite the dire warnings”, the Jackson reforms have actually improved access to justice.
Mr Parker, a partner at DAC Beachcroft and a member of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, said that RTA claims inflation would go up by 3.1% this year and 4.1% next year, as rising damages wiped out the benefits of lower legal costs.
“That’s OK, isn’t it?” he asked. “No, it is not OK. The severity of injuries is lower and road safety is improving. Whiplash reform and changes to medical reporting are a few steps in the right direction, but they won’t do much to tackle claims inflation and frequency.
“RTA claims are back up to pre-Jackson levels. Despite the dire warnings, the Jackson reforms have not impeded access to justice, but encouraged it.”
Speaking at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) motor conference on Tuesday, Mr Parker said an increase in road traffic casualties did not account for the increased cost of claims.
He criticised shadow justice secretary Andy Slaughter for saying that if Labour was returned to power “one of its priorities would be to review and unpick” the LASPO reforms.
Mr Parker said this would be “very difficult to justify” as LASPO was a package of measures. “We should be focusing on further measures on claims inflation and frequency and not undoing the good work that has been done,” he said.
Earlier, Huw Evans, deputy director general and director of policy at the ABI, reiterated its longstanding call for the government to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000.
He said that, with RTA claims back up to pre-LASPO levels, it was necessary to “rebalance the system” to rein in the claims management companies (CMCs).
Mr Evans added: “Is it not a disgrace that we have a justice system so routinely abused by people making fraudulent accident claims at the expense of the honest majority?”
However, Gavin Edmondson, principal of Gavin Edmondson Solicitors in Cheshire, told the conference that there were a number of “very, very painful” RTA injuries worth “significantly below £5,000”.
Mr Edmondson said it was “ridiculous” that the small claims limit had not been raised for 20 years, and it should be raised, but increasing it to £5,000 would be a “draconian step”.
He added: “If claims are deregulated in this way, the CMCs will be able to rip off customers and do what they like.”