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government considers extending small claims track limit to personal injury claims

12 December 2013

The Government has given its strongest indication yet that it is considering increasing the small claims track limit for personal injury claims. Previous consultations have focused on an increase for whiplash claims.

In a letter to the Transport Select Committee chair, Louise Ellman, Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling said there was a "strong case" for considering increasing the small claims track limit for personal injury claims.

The letter was published in a special report published by the Transport Select Committee which shed further light on the governments consultation on reducing whiplash claims.

It its initial response to the Transport Select Committees report, The Cost of Motor Insurance : Whiplash the Government outlined a series of measures to reduce the number of cost of whiplash claims which included the introduction of specialist medical panels to help establish a more robust medical reporting system, voluntary sharing of data by insurers and plans to introduce rules that will ensure medical examination reports are completed before a claim can proceed. However at the time the Government deferred any decision to increase the Small Clams Track limit from £1000 to £5000.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions Compensation Recovery Unit has shown that whilst the number of whiplash related claims have recently fallen there has been an almost three fold increase in the number of neck and back injury related claims over the last five years.

James Arrowsmith, a specialist in personal injury claims at insurance law firm Browne Jacobson, said:

"Its no surprise that the Government remains keen to raise the small claims limit, and this was made clear in the response to its recent whiplash consultation.

"Problems of categorisation of low value injuries mean that any change should sensibly be applied across the range of personal injury claims. Otherwise, we are likely to see more claims classified as neck or back injuries which would formerly have been whiplash.

"However, the Government has accepted that there are issues of access to justice to be resolved in the first instance. The different messages coming from ABI and Portal Co suggest these could take some time to resolve, and modification to the portal will not address all concerns. For example, the ABI has accepted that some claimants will not have internet access, and has suggested they may be able to phone through claim details to the defendant insurer who can then enter details on the portal, on their behalf.

"The potential for conflict created by such an approach is likely to result in significant criticism from claimant interest groups."

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Lakhbir Rakar

Lakhbir Rakar

PR Manager