7th December 2018

 

We live in a compensation culture.  People will claim for anything these days.  The number of claims is going up and up and up all the time.  It is a disgrace and something should be done about it.

Well – that is the story anyway.  And why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

But being as we are a law firm we are in the business of evidence – and facts are sometimes useful as evidence.

So in connection with the compensation culture – what do the figures (the facts) say?

On 6th December 2018 the Ministry of Justice published a document “Civil Justice Statistics Quarterly: July to September 2018”.  Here you can see online: –

  • The statistics.
  • Tables relating to these statistics.
  • A guide to the statistics.

Just looking at the statistics – in July to September 2018 the number of court claims made and judgements obtained decreased against the same quarter last year.  Claims made went down by 8% to 513,000 – important: this is across the whole of England and all of Wales.  8 % drop – pretty significant. But wait for it – there is more: that is the total of claims made at court for all sorts of things – not just personal injury claims.

The drop in personal injury claims was – again: wait for it – 20%! Yes you read that right – one fifth fewer claims this year than last year.  Across all of  England and Wales in that quarter 30,500 personal injury claims were made at court.  Or to put it another way – that is the lowest number of new personal injury claims made in almost seven years says the Ministry of Justice.

The so-called “compensation culture” appears to be going away anyway given the above.  But this isn’t stopping the government pressing on with draconian cuts in access to justice provisions for injured people.

If you get a “soft-tissue” injury in a car accident then as from the date of yet more system  changes (“cuts” is what I really mean)  – scheduled for April 2020 – only if your injury is worth £5,000 or more will you be able to recover the costs of a solicitor from the insurers on the other side if you instruct a solicitor to represent you and you win.  Below that level you are on your own – up against the insurance company which will certainly be represented and will rely on solicitors and barristers at court and dedicated claims handlers before it gets anywhere near court.

Is the real reason for the constant attacks of government on access to justice in the personal injury field concern about  “compensation culture”?  Or is it something else?

There is unremitting lobbying by the insurance industry for the kinds of cuts to the legal system that the government has been making enthusiastically for many years now.  Comments often are made along the lines that because of having to pay out compensation money insurance companies cannot reduce car insurance and other insurance premiums.

But in the current economic climate it is a very rare insurance company that is not making very good profits.  A quick scan through the Internet for details of various insurance companies shows this clearly enough – year after year insurance companies are doing just fine and dandy thank you very much.

And the premiums? Maybe they should go down as the number of claims keeps going down?  So – has anyone reading this noticed an attractive reduction on your car insurance policy renewal premium this year?

If you have done so – please could you let me know the insurance firm concerned? – maybe I shall switch.  But even if you have been lucky like this the position across the industry as a whole is that the insurance companies accept that they have not been reducing car insurance premiums very much if at all.  They do not really provide a detailed explanation as to why that should be the case though.  Funny that.

Could the reason for the “reforms” to the personal injury compensation system in the courts and elsewhere be that the government has closer to its heart the interests of insurance companies rather than the interests of injured individuals?

Just asking …


Blog by Adrian Dalton, Partner