The defendant costs specialists

Personal injury reforms challenged

By on Jan 13, 2017 | 3 comments

Independent economists have criticised the government’s planned personal injury reforms on the basis the reforms would benefit insurers at the expense of consumers and taxpayers.

The term “independent” is perhaps relative given they were instructed to review the reforms by the Law Society, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Motor Accident Solicitors Society.  Here we see the same interesting phenomena that occurs in personal injury claims where the “independent” medical expert instructed by the claimant produces a report favourable to the claimant and the “independent” medical expert instructed by the defendant produces a report favourable to the defendant.

None of this is to suggest that the contents of the report are inaccurate or misleading, but it is doubtful the addition of the word “independent” adds anything.  Frankly, the fact this review was undertaken by “economists” is not much of a recommendation itself given the recent accuracy of most economists’ predictions.

In any event, when in human history has a special interest group commissioned a report that reached a conclusion contrary to the interests of that group?  If it has ever happened, the report never saw the light of day.

    3 Comments

  1. Just to address your last paragraph:

    In 2015 US anti-vaccination group SafeMinds commissioned and funded a huge report to to try and show a link between vaccines and a variety of conditions including autism. Those doing the research included specialists from Universities of Washington, Uni of Texas, Johnson Centre for Child Health and Development etc etc.

    The report was published and found against those who funded it.

    I am sure there are many other examples, like the Home Office funded report about 2 years ago that was “supposed” to find that harsher penalties for drug use lowered the use, when in fact it showed nothing of the sort.

    As always, the real value of any research is not really in the results alone, but in the methodology.

    Paul Williams

    13th January 2017

  2. I take your point about the lack of independence, and indeed the claim process generally. But it is undeniable fact that if these “reforms” are carried out as per the consultation document, the only definite beneficiaries will be those who have shares in insurance companies, and their senior staff, who will be well rewarded for removing a whole raft of rights from claimants. If it were just a case of reducing RTA whiplash damages, then there would be a case for some reform. However these proposals affect all PI claims – workplace, public liability, cyclists hit by government ministers opening taxi doors into them etc – they are nothing to do with whiplash (that’s just a convenient stick to beat the industry with), but an attempt to remove the right of the individual citizen to seek damages when injured by the negligence of another. I doubt anyone truly believes that motor premiums will come down at all (and there is no hint that EL/OL/PL premiums will change at all), whether by the £40 mentioned or at all, and even if they do, they have gone up so much over the past 2-3 years that the insurers have already more than provided for this hit. The Treasury will lose a fortune in lost income tax and NI receipts when much of the PI industry disappears, the NHS will lose CRU payments which will certainly never be made up by the government, and on their own figures 60,000 people will lose their jobs (and that is surely an underestimate – it’s not just law firms that will go, but medical agencies and of course lots and lots of insurance company staff – no more claims means no need for staff to deal with them) – that’s a lot of benefits to be paid for by the rest of the working population. Will the insurers pay enough tax on their increased profits to make up for these losses (even if you take the view that this is solely about money, rather than taking into account the human cost to the victims of negligence and to the tens of thousands thrown out of work)? Given that half of them are already based in Gibraltar to avoid paying proper tax, and many are part of international groups whose HQs are outside the UK, so will be funnelling as much as possible to France (Ageas), Germany (Allianz) and Switzerland (Zurich) as they can get away with, I very much doubt it. This is simply part of a wider attack on access to justice and lawyers generally, by a government which wants to do exactly as it pleases without scrutiny.

    David van der Burg

    13th January 2017

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