The increase in the small claims limit should apply to all personal injury claims, and not just those involving whiplash, so they can be challenged by insurers, former Lord Chancellor Jack Straw said today.
The current government consultation on whiplash puts forward the suggestion of lifting the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 just for whiplash cases, or alternatively for all road traffic accident-related personal injury cases.
Speaking to The Times – through which Mr Straw has campaigned against whiplash claims and began the debate that led to the impending referral fee ban – the Labour MP said it would be “absurd” to confine the small claims rise to whiplash cases.
“An imaginative personal injury lawyer in league with an imaginative medical professional would just offer an alternative diagnosis, so the problem would move from whiplash to, say, lower back pain,” he told the paper.
Mr Straw said he welcomed the idea of the proposed independent medical panels, which he said should be selected by the Association of British Insurers and the personal injury legal lobby.
Mr Straw also said there needed to be “much tighter regulation” of claims management companies.
Separately The Times reported today that the banking industry and the Financial Services Authority are in talks to set a cut-off date after which consumers will be unable to bring claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.
It said the British Bankers Association has suggested a deadline of around next summer, and in return the banks would finance an advertising campaign to ensure the public is aware of the date.