I agree it is vital that anyone who has been the victim of a road traffic accident is able to fairly and effectively claim compensation for injuries they have suffered as a result of negligence. This must also be balanced against the need to ensure that insurance premiums are affordable for responsible motorists and that people are not able to make frivolous or fraudulent claims.
At the Spending Review and Autumn Statement in November, the Chancellor announced plans to end the right to general damages for minor soft tissue injuries, including minor whiplash, and raise the Small Claims Track limit from £1000 to £5000. Organisations such as the Law Society, have expressed concern about these proposals and there has been a Government e-petition which has attracted over 20,000 signatures.
The current Small Claims Track limit has not been increased since 1991. I am not opposed to a proportional increase reflecting the rise in inflation. However, the proposed increase to £5,000 would exclude 90% of all personal injury claims. I am concerned that such a dramatic increase will undermine access to justice, effectively leaving people with legitimate claims without any legal representation for what can sometimes be complex cases.
I do not believe that there is a compensation culture in this country and while there is a difficult balance to strike, it is important that the interests of the victims and their genuine claims are given the consideration they are due.
The Government is due to bring forward a consultation on its proposals in 2016 and I will be following this issue very closely.