In 2018, the Civil Liability Bill passed into law, and is now in the process of being implemented. The Act’s stated aim was to reduce the number of bogus whiplash claims being made by raising the small claims limit for personal injury claims.
Under this new system, injuries as severe as facial scaring and fracturing a rib will be classed as small claims and, as such, would be dealt with in small claims court, with claimants not being able to claim for their legal costs. This would result in fewer claimants taking legal support and, instead, having to represent themselves or turn to vulture claims companies.
This is one of the main reasons why I opposed the Civil Liability Bill when it was progressing through Parliament.
Another reason being that these changes do not just affect whiplash claims. Indeed, under the new system, workplace injuries would be affected too.
Employees injured at work need legal representation to help ensure that those responsible are held to account and that health and safety standards in the workplace are maintained. To remove legal support from many of these employees not only denies the individual employees of justice and compensation, but it erodes workers rights and health and safety standards in the workplace.
The Government is aware of the Civil Liability Act affecting more than just whiplash cases, as they have already exempted cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders – who are defined as vulnerable road users – from the impact of the Act.
However, they have not exempted workplace injuries and I therefore join the Association of British Insurers, trade unions, personal injury solicitors, the British Safety Council, The Law Society and the Justice Select Committee in calling on the Government to exempt workplace injuries from the small claims limit increase.