The delay in the MOJ’s intention to increase the small claims limit to £5000 for RTA claims until April 2020, deterring claimants from recovery costs for claims worth less than £5000 has largely been welcomed in the claims industry. However, there is still scepticism about several aspects of this initiative:
- Is the evidence for the need for this initiative valid and reliable – is the proposed rise in the small claims limit proportional – what and where is the supporting evidence for this?
- Will the Litigant In Person (LIP) portal be ‘fit for purpose’ in time – will claimants be able to get to grips with the online process or will it effectively deny access to justice for individual claimants by being too complex?
- Will the LIP be competent to run their claim without access to legal representation and manage the handling of the claim appropriately?
- Will the savings proposed by insurers actually be realised?
It is widely thought that the delay in these reforms is sensible but that it is still a huge task to deliver fit for purpose IT systems for litigants in person by then. Stakeholder involvement-related requirements need to be assessed – the systems need to be built, tested and deployed and this pilot then evaluated. It would be surprising if all this could be successfully achieved by April 2020. It would be counter productive if an apparent simplification that supposedly saves revenue starts by being too complex to navigate.
It is important that the MOJ clearly set out more detail about this scheme and follow up implementation with data on how the scheme fares both in terms of claimant access to the Portal and medium-term savings resulting from this scheme.
All those working in the claims industry have an interest in and desire to reduce fraud and opportunistic injury claims and reduce associated costs for the majority of motorists – honest motorists. It remains to be seen if the insurers promise to pass on 100% of the savings from the eventual implementation of the Civil Liability Bill to customers will be realised.
In the meantime, experts, lawyers and the courts will continue to assess professionally the reliability and veracity of individual claims/claimants differentially between innocent victims with legitimate claims, and fraudulent claimants whose ‘injuries’ are spurious – a clinical/qualitative approach rather than a cost-constraining approach.
Koch HCH, (Promoting a positive, engaging culture. Modern Insurance Magazine. August 2018).