An increase in the small claims limit for whiplash cases is “unlikely” before the end of next year, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) has said.
Following a meeting with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last week, a spokesman for MASS said there would be a consultation on whether the increase should apply to all personal injury cases.
It was not clear from George Osborne’s autumn statement, which said simply that “more injuries” would go to the small claims court, how far the increase would go.
A spokesman for MASS said the MoJ was likely to launch a consultation in March 2016 on both the small claims increase and Mr Osborne’s plans to remove the right to general damages for minor soft tissue injuries.
He said the consultation would focus on how the changes were to be implemented, “not on the principle but the details”. The consultation is expected to run for between six and 12 weeks.
Removing the right to general damages in whiplash cases would need primary legislation and the spokesman said the measure would be inserted into an “available bill” before parliament.
“The timing of implementation will depend on how long the bill takes to go through the Commons and the Lords, but it is expected to be either April or October 2017.
“The small claims limit change could in theory be earlier, but given the timing of the consultation is unlikely to be before the end of 2016, and the MoJ consider it is likely that it will be introduced at the same time as the whiplash change.”
Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, has hailed the changes as “a significant breakthrough in tackling the compensation culture” and “good news for motorists”.
He went on: “Insurers have long called for meaningful reform in reducing costs in the compensation system, including increasing the small claims track limit.
“Previous government reforms have already led to insurers passing on over £1 billion in savings to motorists through lower premiums, and in a highly competitive motor insurance market, insurers will continue to pass on savings to customers”.