The effects of Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election have been felt across the legal world this week, as the current parliament prepares for 8 June and decides which legislation will be passed before the next government takes power.
MPs on the bill committee have voted unanimously today (20 April) to scrap the Prison and Courts Bill, which will not be rushed through ahead of the general election. This means that access to justice remains open for thousands of personal injury claimants.
The bill was set to have far reaching effects on those injured in accidents. It proposed to increase the small claims limit to £5,000 for injuries arising out of road traffic accidents (RTA) and £2,000 for all other accidents. This would mean that only more serious injuries in an RTA would warrant the involvement of a solicitor, while whiplash injuries would be unlikely to reach the limit meaning that victims would be left to fight the claims alone. Without the bill, claimants will continue to have the support, guidance and experience of a solicitor in dealing with their claim.
In addition, the bill proposed to introduce a tariff system for injuries. Under the tariff, damages are limited to £225 for injures lasting up to three months, £450 for injuries lasting up to six months, and £765 where the injury lasts up to nine months. This would mean that claimants who sustained a whiplash type injury would be inadequately compensated.
The delay in passing the Prison and Courts Bill is a welcome one for personal injury teams, as it means the claimant will still have access to justice. It also presents a valuable opportunity to improve the legislation, for instance, the proposed reforms didn’t deal with instances of fraud, and simply punished the innocent claimant. It is hoped that the next government will reflect on what the bill was intended for when considering reintroducing this.
Head of Personal Injury