February 8, 2013

It’s the Government’s job to come up with crazy ideas and try to turn them into laws, Michael Gove told Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday as he shrugged off a ‘humiliating climbdown’ on his controversial ChewBacc exam plans.

Many suspect his fellow Tory ‘attack dog’ Chris ‘Fiddler’ Grayling is on a similar trajectory with a brilliantly experimental ragbag of legal reforms. This, of course, is utter nonsense. Grayling’s meticulous and balanced plans for abolishing poor people’s access to justice have nothing in common with Gove’s madcap E-Wocc schemes, as the Great British public will ultimately recognise when they see personal injury claims outlawed and their motor insurance premiums drop to virtually zero over the next few years.

In the meantime, however, Bankstone News’ ears are continuously assailed by the pitiful wimpering of personal injury lawyers who seem to think they have some kind of god given right to a role in the UK judicial system/economy. When everyone knows we’ll be better off without them. Them and all those claims firms who’ll be joining them on the fast-track path to professional oblivion as Grayling clarifies and simplifies the legal system.

Grayling is a man of vision on a righteous mission (a mission in no way dictated to him by insurance firms who support his party with handsome donations and lucrative non-ex roles for outgoing ministers). He has every right to grow impatient with constant calls for consultation and (god forbid) judicial reviews – and every justification for curtailing the time allowed by the MoJ for written consultation (currently an interminable 12 weeks) as he has threatened to do – or indeed abolishing it altogether.

Grayling has sent a clear message to those who would oppose him. Responding to so-called access to justice concerns raised by special interest lobby groups APIL and MASS over the raising of the limit for PI claims dealt with through the small claims courts from £1,000 to £5,000, he said he’d taken another look and decided that actually £5k might be too low a figure and – according to a story in the Telegraph – perhaps £15k would be more like it.

“I think there is a case for saying that the small claims court limit of £5,000 is too low,’ he said in the House of Commoners recently. “I am keen for people to have access to a proper legal process,” he deadpanned, “but the benefit of the small claims court is, in part, arbitration. The plans make the process simpler and cleaner.” Any more whinging from the ambulance chasers and we could soon be talking about £30k.

And please don’t ask us, what that bit about arbitration means – the entire legal profession is seemingly baffled (see comments on this story from the Law Society Gazette).


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