- Legal costs reduced for RTA portal to £1,200 plus VAT. This put a limit on the amount of work that a Claimant’s solicitor could justifiably do in case worth up to £10,000. This was a reduction of over 50% on the average costs that a Claimant’s solicitor would incur.
- Legal costs were then further reduced on the RTA portal by over 60% to £500 plus VAT, further reducing the time that a Claimant’s solicitor could justifiably spend on their case.
- The portal was then extended to cover EL & PL claims, with fixed fees also being brought in to further limit the costs that a Claimant’s solicitor could recover from the at-fault Defendant’s insurer.
- The portal was then extended to cover all claims worth up to £25,000, meaning that the said fixed fees applied to the vast majority of cases.
- The government said that, to make up for the shortfall in the Claimant’s solicitor costs, the solicitor could deduct costs from the Claimant’s damages, with most Claimants now having up to 25% deducted from their compensation for this purpose.
- Claimant’s were then told that their ATE premiums would no longer be paid for by the at-fault Defendant’s insurer but instead would be deducted from their own compensation.
- The compensation awards were meant to be increased by 10% to offset this but there is no way of enforcing this without going to trial, which the vast majority of cases do not do.
- The government also said that the detriment to the Claimant would be offset by QOCS. However, QOCS will be disapplied if there is a finding of fundamental dishonesty and the government has no idea as to the practical effects of this threat against a Claimant – that if they are found to have been ‘fundamentally dishonest’ about a material aspect of the case, they could be ordered to pay costs.
- The government then added to this by later introducing legislation to provide that, where there is a finding of fundamental dishonesty, not only will there be costs sanctions but the claim can be struck out, notwithstanding the fact that their claim may still be meritorious and ultimately successful.
- The government removed strict liability from the workplace health and safety regulations meaning that it will no longer be enough for a Claimant to show that they were injured as a result of a breach by their employer of the regulations. They will have to show that the employer was negligent – a higher threshold in cases where the employer is in control/possession of most, if not all, of the significant evidence.
- Court fees were increased by up to 600%, with Claimant’s having to pay as much as £10,000 to issue a claim, when the data shows that the vast majority of claims issued are successful and most are only issued for protective purposes due to Defendant delays.
- Claimant’s with soft tissue injuries can now only instruct a medical expert for a low fixed fee, usually without any review of their records.
- Claimants are no longer able to choose and instruct their own independent medical expert.
- Claimants will soon no longer be able to recover legal costs for any claim worth under £5,000 (which covers around 90% of cases). They will have to cover all legal costs themselves, meaning that they will be less likely to pursue damages, less likely to be able to secure representation (especially for lower value claims) and those that do claim will end up with even less compensation.
- Claimants who suffer whiplash (likely to be defined as soft tissue injuries) will soon no longer be able to claim any compensation at all.
- And finally (for now at least) fixed fees will no doubt soon be brought in to apply to all clinical negligence cases.
And who benefits from all of the above?
Certainly not the Claimant.
Not the Courts (as they will be inundated with LIP’s).
Not the Public (their insurance premiums may fall initially but will ultimately increase year on year and they will be inundated with cold calls from unregulated PPI-type firms taking on small PI claims. Furthermore, the government recently increase IPT by over 50% adding £40 to the average motor insurance premium).
Not the government (a massive drop in Claimant recovery will reduce DWP/CRU benefit recoveries, NHS charge recoveries and increased unemployment both in respect of unrecovered claimants and both defendant and claimant lawyers).
Who then could possibly benefit from such drastic and relentless reforms? Hmmmm