The government's proposals do not redress the imbalance caused by part 2 of LASPO between personal injury victims and the insurance industry
On 7 February 2019, the government published their post-implementation review of Part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012.
The Act sought to reduce the cost of civil litigation, and caused a significant shift in funds and power away from injury victims to the benefit of the already very wealthy insurance industry.
Head of personal injury strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, Gerard Stilliard, has responded to the government's review of the Act:
"This much delayed review is a wet blanket the government hopes to throw over a fire they started and have since fanned.
"There is nothing in the review that even starts to effectively redress the huge imbalance of power created by Part 2 of LASPO between the claimant and the insurer backed defendant.
"The reduction in costs that the government trumpets as a success has been at the expense of claimants’ access to justice and early settlement is as much an indication of non-union backed claimants being unable to afford to press on to trial as it is any new realism in offers from insurers.
"There is a distinct lack of evidence to back up the government’s suggestion that unmeritorious claims have reduced as a percentage of the total number of claims.
"There is nothing in the review that even starts to effectively redress the huge imbalance of power created by Part 2 of LASPO between the claimant and the insurer backed defendant."
"No doubt dancing to a tune played by the insurance industry the government has failed to extend Qualified One Way Cost Shifting to other areas that if the government was really interested in access to justice they would recognise are crying out for support such as actions against the police and employment related civil litigation.
"The only small piece of good news for claimants is the Mulheron/Bacon review and the possibility of changes to the Damages Based Agreement Regulations. But even functioning DBAs mean claimants paying lawyers out of their damages, leaving injured people less than fully and fairly compensated.
"Meanwhile and despite the “clear desire from many practitioners for a period of relative stability”, the government ploughs on with its hugely one sided proposals in the Civil Liability Bill as well as its plan to increase the small claims limit by between 100% and 400%. These changes use the less than 1% of claims that are fraudulent to reduce access to justice for the genuine 99%+. There is no coherent plan as to how the system will cope with the massive increase in litigants in person that the government concedes will result. The only injured people to escape the changes are pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders creating a ludicrous distinction between, say, a paramedic injured on a motorbike and one injured in a car or between a postie injured on their rounds or one injured in the sorting office."
Thompsons Solicitors consultation response to the post-implementation review of part 2 of LASPO can be found here.