0844 249 3844

Please note that calls to numbers pre-fixed 0844 are not free*

N.B. calls to numbers pre-fixed 0844 are not free*

Comment on Justice Select Committee's Evidence Session 7th February 2017

Posted 02 February 2017 by Donna Scully

Comment on Justice Select Committee's Evidence Session 7th February 2017

The Justice Select Committee's evidence session next week (7 February) is likely to be the only chance for Parliament to conduct some pre-legislative scrutiny on the Government's 'whiplash' reforms ahead of legislation. This is clearly insufficient given the potential legal implications, disruption to the sector and the negative impact it will have on the rights of injured persons. If it is to be the best that we can expect, it must be made to count.

It is not difficult to see the circumstances where both the ABI and APIL feel compelled to slug it out from their respective trenches, tossing arguments and barbed counter arguments, facts and alternative facts. I sincerely hope that it doesn't play out like this. That it is not unnecessarily combative. Most people in the debate accept that the status quo is not an option. There are problems in the sector that need addressing.

To be clear, I think that the proposed reforms are a very blunt instrument to tackle some of the complex issues we face. They will unfairly penalise genuinely injured people, threaten our system of restorative insurance cover and create the conditions for a significantly less regulated market where the ability to pursue justice is severely curtailed. The judiciary is right to be worried that the proposals will place an increased burden on the court service and will not provide vulnerable litigants with the safeguards that the system really must provide.

Reform is necessary though. Elements of the claims process need review. Reform should, however, only be implemented after careful consideration of all the consequences and as part of a balanced and proportionate package.

This must include the regulatory framework for CMCs, the transfer of powers and adequate resources to the FCA, provisions to tackle abuse in medical reporting and rehab, and extra powers and commitment by the SRA to genuinely tackle the worst lawyers.

Recent history has shown that piecemeal and staggered reforms will not work. They will create a regulatory vacuum that will be filled by unscrupulous CMCs, the worst of the regulated sector and the unregulated. We need a balanced package of measures to achieve a just, efficient and smaller claims market. This can only be achieved by an honest dialogue, an airing of the areas of agreement that do exist and working together to develop practical solutions. Now wouldn't that be a productive use of the Justice Committee's time.

Donna Scully

© 2018 Carpenters. All rights reserved.
Directors: John Carpenter, Donna Scully

Carpenters is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 625845 www.sra.org.uk
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under number 755996 www.fca.org.uk

*Please note that calls to numbers pre-fixed 0844 are not free - for BT residential customers the cost is no more than 7p per minute plus a 15.97p set-up fee (@June 2015). The cost for non-BT phone lines may be different. Please check the BT price list for charges to other 0844 numbers as charges vary depending on the three digits following 0844. Calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers are free if made from a UK landline. Non-BT customers and mobile phone users should contact their service providers for information about the cost of calls.