A group of personal injury firms and medical reporting agencies has pushed ahead with its plan to issue an application for judicial review against the government, challenging its reforms to medical reporting in whiplash cases.
The firms – led by Manchester firm JMW – argue that ministers failed to conduct an adequate consultation before announcing the changes in December, which it alleges are irrational and unfair.
From 1 April 2015, claimants in straightforward whiplash cases will have to choose their experts from a randomly allocated list through the MedCo portal. Solicitors’ firms which own medical reporting agencies will no longer be able to refer work to them.
A spokesman for the firms said the judicial review application was submitted to the High Court in Manchester.
Mark Jones, the partner at JMW acting for the group, said: “Even though we have been in contact with government since our concerns were first raised, we feel that those exchanges have resulted in insufficient progress.
“Given the considerable impact which these changes will have on how clients pursue whiplash claims and the prospect of further consequences for those making other types of personal injury and civil claims, we view a judicial review as a very necessary step to take.”
Mr Jones said the law firms agreed with ministers and the insurance industry about the need to clamp down on fraudulent claims. However, he argued that the changes would impose severe restrictions more than 900,000 people who make legitimate whiplash claims each year.
Mr Jones added that if the High Court agreed that there were grounds for a review, a hearing could take place before the summer.
It emerged in December that the group were preparing a judicial review application. It was made up of JMW, Express Solicitors, Quindell Legal Services, Jefferies Solicitors, Winn Solicitors, Savas and Savage Solicitors, and Thorneycroft Solicitors, as well as the QualitySolicitors network. Five medical reporting agencies are also backing the action.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We are bearing down on the fraud and abuses of the system that have left honest drivers facing unfairly increased premiums for years.
“Our reforms have already had a major positive impact, turning the compensation culture on its head and we are now seeing premiums fall at record rates.
“We are signalling our commitment to ending the era of questionable whiplash claims by making sure all medical reports are above suspicion.”