May 27, 2011

With brutal disregard to the heartfelt protestations of an entire nation, the government appears hellbent on abolishing the so-called ‘win for cash’ (Conditional Fee Arrangement) approach to claiming compensation in the civil courts.

But a new report from Datamonitor suggests that the “fat cat multinational insurance companies” (who are – according to Andrew Dismal of the Access to Justice Action Group – the sole beneficiaries of the government’s planned reforms) will have to wait another three years or more to start reaping the rich rewards of this grotesque betrayal of ordinary people’s right to claim for whiplash.

Fat cat spokesbody the ABI has claimed that “motorists can look forward to cheaper insurance.” (Coincidentally, Bankstone News looks forward to winning the national lottery.) But in-depth interviews carried out by Datajanitor with insurers, solicitors and random people they met down the pub, suggest that motor insurance policyholders will have to wait several years to find out whether the fat cats are minded to pass on the benefits of their reduced cost base once those pesky hordes of personal injury claimants have been sent packing.

The Ministry of Injustice has yet to submit a bill to Parliament, so the primary legislation required to implement the government’s harebrained schemes won’t go through until next year or even 2013 – even assuming the Access to Justice Action Front and other champions of common sense don’t put up too much of a fight. Further delays can be expected once the bill has gone through, as the finer points of implementation get ironed out.

Datamaneater’s report suggests that claims costs – far from falling away like a stone, will continue rising for some time to come, going from £8.4bn last year to £9.7bn in 2014.

Meanwhile research commissioned by the Access to Justice League and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers insists that everybody is perfectly happy with the current ‘no win, no cash’ system. Three million people in England and Wales have sought compensation this way over the past five years, they say, of whom 2.4 million profess themselves satisfied with the process and outcome. Half of those claiming earned less than the national average.

“The government’s plans are Draconian,” AJAG’s Dismal warned, “and will end access to justice for the less well off.” Ending the current system, which delivers “huge satisfaction” to fans of justice everywhere, will, he claims, leave MPs’ surgeries flooded with injured persons on whom the legal systems has turned its back. In other words, it could all go a bit Dawn of the Dead.

Surely no one wants that. Could it be there’s still time for reason to prevail?


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