Access to justice for genuine accident victims genuinely at risk

  • Posted

Posted 07/12/2012

We are very concerned that proposals due to come into effect next April will make it more difficult for people who suffer genuine injuries in accidents to obtain compensation. This is a view shared by many lawyers and, among others, Craig Budsworth, the Chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS).  

The Government’s proposals are to cut drastically, and fix, the legal costs of pursuing claims on behalf of innocent accident victims. As Mr Budsworth points out these will “fundamentally alter civil litigation in the UK and the careful balance between the rights of claimants and defendants. They will shift the likelihood of success firmly in favour of defendants …. and will have serious unintended consequences.”

From April 2013, the changes will immediately impact upon cases valued up to £25,000. The cost cutting proposals will mean that it will not be economically viable for many lawyers to take on such cases and to continue to provide clients with quality advice and the professional support required and expected to ensure that justice is done and the rights of the innocent protected. The large majority of people may also find that the very organisations paying their compensation (the insurers) will also be the ones telling them how much they should receive. This clearly cannot be right as most members of the public will not know whether the offer is fair.

It should also be borne in mind that if fewer victims seek to bring claims and seek treatment through the claim process, the NHS will have to bear the full cost of treating them and this will have to come from somewhere.

It is clear that if the proposed changes go ahead this will threaten the balance of the UK’s legal system and will jeopardise access to justice for genuine accident victims and create additional pressure on our already seriously under resourced NHS.

If you wish to support the call for the Government to think again, you can make your voice heard by completing the online petition or by writing to your local MP – or both.

Tom Ranson of Ashtons Legal injury services says: “We would urge you to take an immediate interest as, statistically, it is likely that the changes will affect someone you care about at some point. If the Government’s proposals go through as they stand, this will have a catastrophic effect upon the quality of the independent advice and care that innocent accident victims receive.  In short, these cuts will deny the average person access to justice as justice will, quite literally, have too high a price.”


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