March 20, 2013

Sponsored by the MoJ, the Civil Justice Council is a non-departmental public body set up in 1998 to advise the Lord Chancellor on civil justice and civil procedure in England and Wales. It’s a pretty fair bet that the current Lord Chancellor Chris Greything will be in no mood to heed its latest advice. More likely, he’ll abolish the body altogether in a deeply responsible bid to reduce the deficit.

What exactly is the CJC saying that will sound so unwelcome a note in the ears of Greything? Oh, only that his plans for freeing us from scourge of whiplash could do with a bit of, shall we say, fine tuning. Irresponsible nonsense of course. But, before consigning their counsels to definitive oblivion, let us first expose them for the twaddle they so clearly are.

Airily untroubled as they are by the burdensome responsibilities of representative office, Lord Dyson (who ludicrously styles himself ‘Master of the Rolls’) and his chums are of course at liberty to make the odd fanciful suggestion, but to insinuate – as Bankstone News regrets to inform its readers, they have – that the Government has failed to present the evidence to support the supposed link between whiplash on the one hand and fraudulent and/or exaggerated claims on the other is vicious perniciousness.

Does the war zone surgeon stay his knife pending proper diagnosis? Does the baton wielding policeman pause to distinguish the enemy of the state from the hapless passer by? They do not. What insurance companies, and, frankly, the entire motoring public, want – nay, demand – right now is action not “further research”. If Britain is to be pulled back from the very brink of the abyss, the likes of Osborne and Greything would do well to cleave fast unto the timeless motto of our special forces: “Τοις τολμώσιν η τύχη ξύμφορος”.

More irresponsible still is the CJC’s absurd contention that the Government is wrong to believe that raising the small claims limit for personal injury claims will make it easier and cheaper for insurers to challenge them, describing this view loftily as “based on a misconception”. Citing some namby pamby nonsense about it being unfair to treat the same injury differently based purely on how it occurred, the CJC whinged that the £5,000 limit was “too high” and would rope in excessively complex cases.

Ironically, given its insistence on HMG providing supporting evidence for its new measures, the CJC complained vaguely that there is “a sense” that “only a small minority of claims are exaggerated or fraudulent, and the way to tackle fraud is by a robust approach by defendants to civil actions where there is evidence to support such an allegation or, in appropriate cases, through criminal prosecution.”

With all due respect to those of extravagantly liberal sensibilities, Bankstone News can’t help thinking that this gibberish is on a par with the view that, because only some badgers carry the Mycobacterium bovis that causes bovine TB in cattle, there should be no cull! The simple and undeniable truth is that fewer claims means fewer instances of claims fraud. Let us please not get ourselves tangled up in fruitless speculation over unintended consequences – and focus instead on allowing insurers to maximise their ability to reduce premiums if they feel like it.


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