November 24, 2014

Distinguishing between an extra arrow and a magic wand is a vital skill for anyone hoping to distinguish themselves in the legal profession, and one in which DWF partner Simon Denier is clearly not deficient.

Independent legal panels empowered to decide who (if anyone) actually has the fictional affliction whiplash, and other government initiatives designed to turn back the tide of trumped-up claims, Denier claims, collectively constitute “an extra arrow for insurers to use”.

They are not, however, he warns, “a magic wand”, by which he means, presumably, something like a staff of disappearance or baton of banishment, rather than the handy tool in image manipulation software Photoshop that selects pixels based on tone and colour.

Starting to show off just a little, Denier goes on to introduce a secondary distinction between legal reforms (aka an extra arrow) and a ‘silver bullet’.

For the benefit of readers on whom the precise implications of the latter distinction may be lost: simply recall that silver bullets can be used to dispatch werewolves (definitely), zombies (possibly), and whiplash claimants (hopefully).

For now, sadly, insurers are going to have to forget about bullets and wands, and content themselves with the aforementioned extra arrow as they struggle to regain the initiative in the War on Whiplash.

Latest reports from the WoW front line suggest all is not going well. The singing, dancing and slashing of motor insurance premiums that greeted the introduction of HMG’s LASBO reforms in April last year looks more than a trifle premature in hindsight.

Whiplash claims, we learned this week, have snapped back to pre-LASBO levels, with the MoJ’s Total Outstanding Whiplash Entry ledger (TOWEL) flicking upwards by 17% during October to 80,341 (compared with a mere 68,839 for the same period last year), its sixth successive increase, in as many months, obviously.

So, basically, the government had better pull its flaming socks up in pretty damned short order, or one or two insurance companies are going to have some not altogether unharsh words to say about it.

Enough with the arrows (extra or otherwise). What we need now is a howitzer.

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