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Lawyer body defends members over personal injury reforms

The body that represents solicitors in England and Wales has spoken out following moves to ban solicitors from offering up-front incentives for personal injury claims.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced a package of measures on 7 June designed to tackle insurance fraudsters and dishonest claims and reduce the amount paid out unnecessarily by insurers. They include:

  • requiring courts to throw out compensation applications in full where the claimant has been fundamentally dishonest
  • plans to ban lawyers from encouraging people to make claims by offering them incentives such as cash or iPads
  • reducing questionable whiplash claims by improving medical assessments, ensuring they are only conducted by independent accredited professionals, and setting fixed fees for medical reports this year
  • introducing new rules this year to restrict the practice of settling whiplash claims without confirmation of the claimant’s injury.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: “The Law Society believes that the tiny fraction of fraudulent claims should be stamped on. It is for the insurers to investigate claims properly and we will support them in doing so. But this should not be at the expense of honest claimants.

“The real concern for the public is that people who suffer injury, whether it is whiplash or something more serious, through no fault of their own are entitled to compensation for their loss. They should never settle a claim until they have seen an independent solicitor. Solicitors should be able to advertise their services like any other part of a modern economy.

“There is no evidence to support suggestions that anyone would launch a spurious legal claim or embark on litigation just because they were being offered a free iPad, just as it is a myth that we live in a compensation culture.

“Whiplash claims are less of a problem of fraud and much more likely to be a problem of exaggeration or an insurance industry approach where it has been easier to pay all claims, pass on the cost to motorists and not challenge improper cases.”