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PI reform enthusiast joins Ministry of Justice line-up

Philp: New junior minister

One of the most outspoken backbench supporters of the government’s personal injury reforms has been given a role at the Ministry of Justice that includes advancing the agenda.

Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, was yesterday appointed a junior minister to replace Edward Argar, who has been promoted and moved to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Though his primary responsibilities will be criminal justice and court reform, he will also speak in the House of Commons on those issues handled by Lord Keen, whose portfolio includes civil justice and legal services.

Mr Philp has long pushed for whiplash reform because of his concern about the number of fraudulent claims, telling an Association of British Insurers event [1] in October 2016 that he was leading a delegation of MPs to lobby the then Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, to press ahead with legislation.

He has regularly related his own experience of being repeatedly called to make a claim after a minor accident where there had been no injuries.

During various stages of the reform process, Mr Philp has called for the small claims limit go up to £10,000, in line with other money claims, rather than £5,000, and argued for a wider definition of whiplash injury to include injuries to the lower back as well as the upper back.

He also told fellow MPs in one debate in 2017 [2] that the Ministry of Justice should “look again at qualified one-way costs shifting, because it creates a very perverse incentive for insurance companies to settle even when they could win a case in court”.

Mr Philp said that if insurers did not pass on the savings to motorists, “I would expect the Competition and Markets Authority to be encouraged by the government—or even required, if the government have that power—to conduct an investigation… I do not expect these savings to end up in the back pockets of the insurance industry”.

Mr Philp also took aim at insurers “circumventing” the referral fee ban through alternative business structures.

“That is where the insurance company has some form of equity or profit share stake in a claims management company, the details still get passed on, and the insurance company effectively gets paid via the equity stake as a means of circumventing the referral fee ban. That is clearly an abuse and we should take steps to end it.

“Finally, there are many examples of insurance companies procuring services such as car hire, legal services or vehicle repair services very cheaply, and they get recharged to the at-fault party’s insurance company at a significantly marked-up price. That is profiteering and, again, steps should be taken to prevent it happening.”