Following on from our recent posts regarding the implications of the impending reforms to the personal injury market.
Initially scheduled for April 2020, there have been many questions raised by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and others as to whether the proposed implementation date for the reforms was realistic.
Major stakeholders in the reforms have been given a sense of relief, and it seems as though that common sense has seemingly won, with the government succumbing to the inevitable and announcing earlier this week that it is pushing the reforms back to the 1st of August. Many suspected that this announcement was coming and that it was simply a matter of when.
So, what was announced? Are there any changes to the initial plans for the reforms? Who are the real winners?
Clearly, this announcement will give businesses working predominantly in the Road Traffic Accident sector a temporary sense of relief. It will allow time to rethink their business plans, devise strategies for coping with the reforms when they are finally implemented and advise clients accordingly. Additionally, Claimants have more time to make claims arising from accidents they have had within the last three years, without the restrictions of the proposed fixed tariffs.
This news will be welcomed by all within the Claimant sector. In one sense, this news is undoubtedly good, but, good news often comes with a catch, and this is exactly what has happened. Included in the announcement by Robert Buckland QC, Justice Secertary, was the news that the Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure that was initially offered, is now to be removed from the reforms altogether. That will inevitably leave a lot of people with new questions, mainly as to how the changes to the initial plans will affect them.
In short, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) element of the whiplash portal was the element of the portal designed to assist litigants in person (Claimants without solicitors) when insurers denied liability, or where they believed that an offer made to them was too low. ADR’s main function was to circumvent the need to go to court, which is often daunting, and very timely.
The Government has concocted a new plan to substitute ADR with new proposals meaning that litigants in person will have to go to court to establish liability in disputed liability cases. This will likely mean genuine Claimants will be faced with running their own cases and being opposed by experienced claims handlers and often solicitors from the Insurance industry, who have more skills and expertise to try and ensure that the court rules in their favour. That will clearly leave the odds stacked even more in favour of the insurance industry than it already is.
Is this a kick in the teeth for justice? Will the courts now be busier (and consequently slower) than ever with litigants in person attending hearings because they feel they have not been adequately compensated? Time will tell, but these proposals will take time to plan, and who’s to say the planned implementation date of the 1st of August will not face further delay? The reforms have already been delayed not once, but twice, and may well be put back for a third time. There is still a lot of work to do if the Government is to meet the new date, that is if they don’t eventually decide to scrap the reforms altogether if they prove unworkable.
However, what is certain is that the time to bring claims is now. If you have had a Road Traffic Accident in the last three years, our experienced Fee Earners will be here to assist you and ensure that you will obtain the compensation you deserve. You can contact us by calling 0114 218 4000 or by emailing P.I.Dept@tayloremmet.co.uk.