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Ministry of Justice set to tackle unjustified personal injury claims

June 13th, 2014

On Monday, the Ministry of Justice published a ministerial statement headlined “Tackling Unjustified Personal Injury Claims”.

The statement has set out Parliament’s intention to introduce legislation aimed at reducing the number of personal injury claims presented to insurers.  There are two issues that the Ministry of Justice is aiming to address:

1.  The first, if passed, will require the Court to dismiss a personal injury claim in its entirety, if the Court is satisfied that the Claimant has been ‘fundamentally dishonest’.

At present, if a Claimant exaggerates an element of the claim, the Court will generally still award compensation for the genuine and non-exaggerated elements of the claim, and will only dismiss the entire claim in exceptional circumstances.  The Ministry of Justice has made clear its intention to toughen up this area and where a Claimant exaggerates parts of the claim, the entire claim is to then be dismissed.

Andrew King, who is accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) as a Senior Litigator, welcomes the proposal but insists that further clarity is still needed:

The proposed change in the law is, in principle, a sensible idea.  Where Claimants do pursue grossly exaggerated claims, I would support the MoJ’s view that the entire claim should be dismissed.  This will discourage not only Claimants from pursuing the action, but also force their lawyers to satisfy themselves that the claim being pursued is genuine.  That being said, there is presently insufficient clarity on what “fundamentally dishonest” means and what an insurer would need to prove in order to persuade the Court of this.  Parliament will need to ensure this is given careful consideration before any legislation is passed as this will only create further uncertainty.

2.  The second issue the Ministry of Justice seek to tackle is to outlaw the offering of inducements to potential Claimants.  The view of the Parliament is that offering clients money or free gifts such as iPads to pursue a personal injury claim encourages unnecessary claims to be made.

In reaction to the same, Andrew is also pleased that the Ministry of Justice is proposing changes to the law for the better:

I, like a number of my peers, have long held the view that the offering of inducements should be banned.  Clients are already faced with regular television adverts, cold calls and unwanted text messages asking if they have suffered an injury in the last 3 years and encouraging their call.  The public perception is that it is easy to bring a personal injury claim and to receive compensation, although the majority of the public are honest enough not to bring a claim that is not genuine.  I cannot see what good can possibly come from offering someone a free games console if they bring a personal injury claim and I am pleased to see the MoJ confront this.”

The full Ministry of Justice ministerial statement is available to read here.

Andrew King is a personal injury solicitor.  If you have suffered an accident that was not your fault, contact him today on 01494 773377.  You will not be given a free iPad unfortunately but you will be offered an exceptional service.

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