Government plans to deny access to justice for ordinary people came under attack from backbench MPs at Justice Questions in the House of Commons. Yvonne Fovargue (Lab – Makerfield), Nick Thomas-Symonds (Lab – Torfaen) and David Nuttall (Con – Bury North), took MoJ minister Dominic Raab to task on the government’s plans to scrap the right to compensation for minor whiplash injuries and raise the upper limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000.
Ms Fovargue noted: “There still appears to be no independent verification of the fraud culture and pandemic of claims cited as the reason to raise the small claims limit for personal injury. In fact, not one motor insurer even mentioned fraud as a material risk when reporting their annual returns to the stock market. What independent evidence does the Minister have of a fraud culture?”
The minister declined to answer directly, stating instead that the reforms “will save the insurance industry £1 billion annually. The industry is committed to passing those savings on to customers, which will reduce premiums by £50.”
Nick Thomas-Symonds pointed to concerns raised by the Law Society, who said the proposals may undermine the rights of ordinary citizens to gain compensation for negligence. Mr Raab, responding, said that the Law Society looked after the interests of its members, and that “We must consider all evidence that we receive and look at this in the round, rather than just take into account what the lawyers think.”
Conservative David Nuttall questioned the sledgehammer nature of the proposals, and asked why, if the courts already have the power to strike out fraudulent claims, the “innocent majority of genuine claimants [would] be penalised because of the potentially criminal behaviour of a few.”
Replying, Mr Raab said that the reforms were designed to weed out spurious claims and that policyholders should “not be penalised by those who are taking the system for a ride.”
Commenting, Andrew Twambley, spokesperson for A2J, which is campaigning against the insurance industry-led reforms, said: “These plans are designed by the insurance industry, for the insurance industry, and I’m pleased that backbench MPs are holding the Government to account.”
“There is no substantive evidence to justify these reforms, and we urge MPs to stand up for their 60 million constituents who annually will find it much harder to get any compensation for injuries sustained through no fault of their own.”
Twambley also called for legal firms and other groups to join the A2J campaign and speak out against what he described as a fundamental erosion of rights to justice that go back centuries.