MPs launch inquiry into government’s personal injury reforms


Parliament: short inquiry

MPs on the justice select committee have launched a “short” inquiry into the personal injury reforms contained in the Prisons and Courts Bill.

The announcement comes ahead of the bill’s second reading – during which the principles behind it will be debated – on Monday.

Last month, its chairman, Conservative Bob Neill, accused the Ministry of Justice of “firing in entirely the wrong direction” with its plans, which he said should be targeted more at claims management companies.

He was also copied into a letter from his counterpart on the transport select committee, Labour’s Louise Ellman, which said the reforms appeared more likely to put genuine claimants at the risk of injustice than reduce the number of fraudulent claims.

That committee also said there was “little direct evidence that tackling fraud has reduced premiums”, and called for more time for the impact of previous reforms to be felt.

The justice committee has invited written submissions of no more than 3,000 words to address five specific issues, the wording of which indicate a degree of scepticism with the bill’s provisions:

  • The definition of whiplash and the prevalence of RTA-related whiplash claims;
  • Whether or not fraudulent whiplash claims represent a significant problem and, if so, whether the proposed reforms would tackle this effectively;
  • The provisions introducing a tariff to regulate damages for RTA-related whiplash claims, with an uplift in exceptional circumstances, and banning the settlement of claims without medical evidence;
  • The impact of raising the small claims limit to £5,000 for RTA-related whiplash claims, and of raising the small claims limit to £2,000 for personal injury claims more generally, “taking account of the planned move towards online court procedures”; and
  • The role of claims management companies in respect of these matters.

The committee took oral evidence from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Association of British Insurers last month and said it intended to hold one more after receiving written submissions, before preparing a report.

The deadline for submissions to this inquiry is Friday 31 March. Click here for details.

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