Lord chancellor Robert Buckland QC today hailed the end of what he called ‘greedy opportunism’ as personal injury reforms finally came into force.
The Official Injury Claim online service goes live today as the small claims limit for RTA claims increases and a new system is required to help unrepresented people. The change means costs for claims under £5,000 are no longer recoverable, with a major knock-on effect for solicitors in the sector.
Set tariffs are also imposed for all accidents on or after this date, resulting in claimants receiving considerably less compensation than previously.
The reforms are the culmination of a process that began in 2015 with a promise of changes in the PI sector by then chancellor George Osborne. Those were enacted through part one of the Civil Liability Act 2019, which brought about the tariffs and the increase in the small claims limit. The legislation also banned the practice of seeking or offering to settle whiplash claims without first obtaining medical evidence.
After being delayed 13 months, the Official Injury Claim website is set to handle claims from today. It was designed and tested by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which will operate the system on behalf of the Ministry of Justice. While the site carries the logo of the MoJ, it has a ‘.org.uk’ rather than a ‘.gov.uk’ web address.
In a public statement today, the government said the changes are designed to reduce the ‘unacceptably high’ number of whiplash claims made each year. It reiterated the pledge that insurers would pass on the £1.2bn savings from the reforms, an average of £35 for every motorist.
Buckland said: ‘For too long the system for making whiplash claims has been open to abuse by individuals looking for an easy payday – with ordinary motorists paying the price. Our changes, which come into force today, will put an end to this greedy opportunism and ultimately see savings put back into the pockets of the country’s drivers.’
While the system is aimed at unrepresented claimants, its complexity has come under criticism. A 64-guide to making a claim, published last month, seemed to exemplify the concerns expressed about the difficulties faced by injured people working alone.
Dominic Clayden, chief executive of the MIB, said the organisation has delivered on its remit to build a service meeting the government’s requirements. ‘MIB’s focus has always been about making sure the new legal process is as easy and straight forward as possible for anyone who might need to make a claim,’ he said.