There was good news for personal injury claimants this week following the Ministry of Justice’s response to the consultation into whiplash claims. The MoJ have confirmed that the small claims limit in personal injury claims will remain at £1,000.
There had been wide-spread speculation that the small claims limit would be raised to £5,000. This would have ensured that thousands of low value claims, predominantly road traffic accident “whiplash” cases, would be treated by the Courts as small claims and the claimants would not be able to recover their legal costs from their opponent. As a result, claimants with genuine cases would not have been able to find a solicitor to take on their case, and would have been faced with the choice of representing themselves against insurance companies or not proceeding with their case at all.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson hailed the MoJ decision to heed the warnings of the transport select committee and maintain the small claims limit at its current level for personal injuries as ‘good news for accident victims and a victory for common sense’. ‘It reduces the risk of people with real injuries being fobbed off with less than they are entitled to,’ he said.
Tom Hartigan, associate solicitor in Trethowans’ personal injury team, commented: “The government’s decision not to raise the small claims limit ensures that claimants will still be able to access specialist legal advice to help them obtain the compensation they need for their injuries and losses. It was a serious concern that a rise in the small claims limit, and the non-recoverability of legal costs within it, would have led to situations where genuine claimants would have had extreme difficulty in getting solicitors to fight their cases."