Posted 13 July 2017 by Donna Scully
Where should the post-election parliament place emphasis on improving the claims sector?
Before we get to parliament, the first thing the Ministry of Justice should do is to take a deep breath and resist the temptation to launch full speed off the cliff. If the Conservatives are returned to power and an amended Prisons and Courts Bill is flagged for a return in the Queen’s Speech, it is only weeks before the summer recess. There appears little point in hastily re-introducing a flawed Bill whilst MPs are only thinking about the dynamics of the new Parliament and their post-election summer break. Legislative scrutiny of Bills won’t really begin now until October anyway.
The next three or so months can then be fruitfully spent with MoJ having a genuine and frank dialogue with stakeholders from across the sector on the desired shape of the reforms. Defendant solicitors have now publicly started questioning the logic and direction of the proposed reforms. Increasingly, some insurers are becoming genuinely concerned about where this is all leading, but are understandably reluctant to speak publicly, because it might risk derailing the genuine case for reform.
Putting aside the principled arguments against the reforms for one moment, on a practical level there are simply too many unanswered questions right now about how it will all work in practice. There are too many loopholes, and insufficient time has been spent on thinking through the consequences. Neither insurers nor solicitors wish to see the market surrendered to claims farmers actively encouraging and guiding LiPs. Most insurers really don’t want solicitors squeezed out of the market, recognising that they, for the most part, provide a professional service in filtering out the worst claims and efficiently dealing with the mostly genuine. Will the process really have been worth it when we likely end up with increased costs for insurers, more fraudulent claims and a dramatically less efficient market?
There is a growing appetite to collectively work through these issues. Legislation can then return to Parliament that is more comprehensive and fit-for-purpose. It can address some of the critical issues that are currently an afterthought: rehab, credit hire, repair, medical reporting, SRA powers and improved data sharing. The new Bill can then be better aligned with the transfer of regulatory powers over CMCs to the FCA and the proposed ban on cold calling. Parliament could then be responsible for a piece of legislation that might actually improve the claims market, rather than breaking it.
This article was first published in Modern Claims Magazine on 13th July 2017. You can view the full article here: https://issuu.com/modernlawmagazine/docs/mcm_26_email