The Law Society, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) have agreed a compromise on the Jackson reforms that they are to propose to the government, Legal Futures can report.
They have won support from three of the charities that have been most outspoken in opposition to the reforms: Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the Spinal Injuries Association, and Roadpeace.
With the crucial House of Lords report stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill due to start next week, the package recognises that the government is determined to push through reform but is a last-ditch attempt to ameliorate what the organisations see as the worst aspects of the changes.
They propose retaining the recoverability of success fees, but fixing and limiting them at a new lower level; ending the recoverability of after-the-event insurance premiums in most cases; finding “a workable method” of introducing qualified one-way cost-shifting (QOCS) “which would make the system truly effective in helping injured people”; and putting into legislation the 10% uplift in damages recommended by Lord Justice Jackson.
Law Society chief executive Des Hudson said: “The changes will make it much more difficult for people to pursue claims for injury and loss caused by the wrong-doing of others. This is in no-one’s interests. However, we also recognise that government is determined to review the system.
“With colleagues at APIL and MASS, we have combined in a spirit of pragmatism to present to the government an alternative set of proposals which address their concerns but which will cause less damage to the interests of ordinary citizens who have been wronged.”
APIL president David Bott said: “In the face of the government’s apparently implacable determination to drive reforms through, we have focused on the development of constructive and thoughtful alternatives.
“This may not be the ideal solution, but the claimant community has worked hard to formulate a compromise which is balanced enough to suit all parties in this debate. We are now calling on the government to give this package serious consideration. The only party to benefit from the Government’s current proposals is the insurance industry whose interests should not be put before those of the public.”
MASS chairwoman Donna Scully added: “These small changes, which build on the package of reforms put forward by Lord Justice Jackson, would bring balance to the new system and protect claimants.”
Peter Walsh, chief executive of AvMA, said that “another vital change that is required is to keep legal aid for clinical negligence cases”.