A2J Response to Report Stage of Civil Liability Bill
Thursday 14th June, 2018
13 June 2018
Lawyers call for the government to protect the rights of injured people, after Civil Liability Bill heads to the Commons
Access to Justice (A2J) has urged ministers to ensure that the rights of genuinely injured people are protected, after an amendment to remove the government’s proposed new tariff structure for minor injuries was narrowly defeated in the House of Lords yesterday during the Report Stage of the Civil Liability Bill.
Andrew Twambley, spokesperson for A2J, which opposes the reforms said: “During the debate many Peers were concerned that the government’s sole focus is on reducing cost and clamping down on fraud, leaving genuinely injured people out in the cold.”
“If these reforms go through, the public will rightly ask why they have to pay for compulsory motor insurance, when the government offers them no protection if they are injured in a non-fault traffic accident.”
The amendment was tabled by the ex Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, the architect of reforms in 1999 that opened up the justice system to ordinary claimants. Speaking in favour of the amendment, Lord Woolf said: “It (the tariff structure) offends an important principle of justice, because it reduces the damages that will be received by an honest litigant because of the activities of dishonest litigants.“
Lord Woolf went on to add: “There has never been a case where legislation deliberately introduces injustice into our law. It may be that it is only in regard to small claims, but surely it is important that we pause before we do that.”
Mr Twambley said that most parties agreed that some reform of the current system is sensible, but “ministers need to find a better balance. We are confident that MPs will heed our calls for a rethink.”
He added that A2J’s arguments are strongly supported by the Justice Select Committee, which was highly critical of the government’s proposals in its whiplash report, published in May.”
Looking ahead, Mr Twambley said it was likely the Civil Liability Bill will be introduced into the Commons before the Summer. We will be working hard to make sure MPs on all sides of the House understand that there is a better way.”
“We strongly support action against fraud, but the answer is to catch fraudsters, fine them or put them in prison, and we already have laws in place to arrest and prosecute these people.”
“Ministers should be encouraging enforcement of the existing law, instead the MoJ wants to close off the justice system to injured claimants, which cannot be right.”
About Access to Justice
A2J represents the interests of the public and is supported by the broader personal injury (PI) sector. Its prime focus is to respond to the government’s proposed road traffic accident compensation reforms.
A2J provides a cohesive voice to fight these proposed draconian measures; it will work with the government and other interested parties to create sensible, balanced alternatives which protect individuals’ rights, while addressing the government’s concerns, particularly in relation to claims fraud.