AJAG: Public Opinion Survey

PRESS RELEASE – LONDON – 23RD JANUARY 2011

 
A survey commissioned by lobbying group Access to Justice (AJAG) has revealed a staggering 77% of potential personal injury claimants would not make a claim if they were at risk of paying a defendant’s legal costs.

The survey asked over 1000 UK citizens, most of whom had never made a personal injury claim, about pressing issues arising from the Government’s plans to implement Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs.

Findings from the study have revealed an overwhelming majority (77%) would not consider making a claim even if there was a only a small chance they would have to pay defendants’ legal costs in the event of an unsuccessful legal fight.

The findings raise fresh concerns over how Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation  will impact on access to justice  for Britain’s injury victims.

The Government’s  proposals would prevent claimants from being able to recover their insurance premiums or success fees from the defendant, leaving claimants potentially facing large legal bills.  Jackson has suggested up to 25% of a successful claimant’s compensation could be paid out to lawyers to subsidise running lost cases (currently paid for out of success fees) a fee previously covered by insurance companies.

Only 19% of respondents to the survey disagreed with the current “no win, no fee” structure at risk under Jackson’s proposals.

44% of people surveyed said concerns over legal costs – set to be inflated under Jackson – would be “extremely likely” from deterring them from making a claim, even in the current system.

77% of claimants scared off by Jackson reforms.

The survey also confirms  that the “compensation culture” is a myth: even if someone else was to blame, only 52% were likely or very likely to claim for an injury at work

Only 20% believed the Government should make it harder for ordinary citizens to get compensation if an accident was not their fault.

AJAG, has recruited former MP and personal injury lawyer Andrew Dismore to spearhead the campaign, who believes the Government’s proposals will prevent many people  being able to access justice to enforce their rights.

Commenting on the survey Dismore said,
“Our findings from this survey confirm  the concerns of the general public, that the changes proposed by the Government  will mean that ordinary people will find their access to justice severely restricted, especially for accident victims and small businesses facing big companies. The impact assessment makes clear that the winners will be the insurance companies and the losers, claimants.”

AJAG has the support of consumer champion Esther Rantzen who was alarmed at the findings and has put her full weight behind the campaign to protect consumer rights to Access to Justice.

Darren Werth, Managing Director of Claims Management firm, Accident Advice Helpline and Chairman of trade body Claims Standards Council added,
“If the government really wanted to make cuts fairly, they could start by capping insurance companies’ legal costs in the same way claimants’ costs are limited; and they could incentivise the insurance companies to accept liability and to make sensible offers earlier. That would be much fairer that making it harder for the public to enforce their rights and get justice.”
Werth went on “Already 75% of claims are dealt with under the RTA claims portal which was agreed between claimant and defendant representatives so these proposals really seem like the government want to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

A copy of the survey can be downloaded from, the AJAG website

AJAG public opinion survey