The number of personal injury (PI) claims issued last year fell to the lowest level since 2011, even though the total number of money cases in 2018 was the highest this century, according to figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Justice.
In the latest figures to throw into question the need for next year’s Civil Liability Act reforms, the MoJ’s quarterly civil justice statistics release said there were 124,126 PI claims issued in 2018.
In 2011, there were 110,582 and the figures peaked in 2013 at 146,867 claims.
The release said that the 19% fall in personal injury claims in the last quarter of 2018, compared with the same period 12 months earlier, could be attributed to a change in Civil Procedure Rules on holiday package gastric illness claims, and whiplash reform.
A further concern about next year’s PI reforms – which will push potentially hundreds of thousands of cases into the small claims track – comes from the figures showing how the average time between issue and trial in the small claims court has been slowly but steadily increasing.
In 2018, litigants in 42,305 small claims cases had to wait 31.7 weeks to have their case heard, the longest period this century.
Recent figures from the Association of British Insurers said there has been a “slowly decreasing volume” of PI claims since 2016,
This was all against a background of 2018 seeing a record 1.8m money claims issued in total. When non-money claims and insolvency petitions are added in, nearly 2.1m civil proceedings were begun last year, a figure only topped this century in 2006.
Concerns about the increase in litigants in person since LASPO are not reflected in the civil figures, with the proportion of parties with legal representation in defended claims having been largely stable over the past six years.
In 2018, both sides were represented in 58% of cases (97% in unspecified money claims, which are mainly PI), the claimant only in a further 22% and the defendant only in 4%.
In addition, the figures showed a dramatic drop in the number of judicial reviews, falling from 4,196 issued in 2017 to 3,597 in 2018 – again the lowest figure this century. This was mainly due to a drop in asylum and immigration JRs, which make up the majority of judicial reviews, but also in civil JRs.