Legal Cost Specialists

Compensation culture

One of the pleasures of writing the Legal Costs Blog is the comments that readers add to posts. These are usually informative and thoughtful. Sometimes they are critical of the contents of something I have written. Sometimes these are outright (anonymous) personal attacks. I take the view that if one wishes to engage in this type of social media then one has to allow for this type of response. My policy is that so long as comments are not obscene or crude SEO spam, then I allow it in.

Over then to the Sound Off for Justice website. The very name of this campaign suggests it is all about free speech. They have a blog and the blog has a section for readers to add their comments.

The other day, in response to a post headed “Do you support the government’s ripping up of Magna Carta?”- dealing with proposed cuts to the legal aid budget – I tried to post a comment saying I was not aware legal aid had been around in 1215. Admittedly, this was rather an easy target but what do they expect from making comments suggesting that access to the free services of a lawyer has always been the God given right of every Englishman? (Legal aid was first established in this country in 1949.) As it was, the comment was not approved.

I tried again in response to their post headed: “Jackson Reforms Part One: The Compensation culture is a myth”. This consisted of the typical selective use of statistics. So I tried again with the following comment:

“Yes. Let’s look at the truth.

The BRTF’s conclusion that the compensation culture was a myth was based on the fact the total number of claims between 2000 and 2003 were broadly flat and then went down in 2003/2004. A reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.

The Young Report only commented on EL injuries, which have shown a long term decline (probably due to changes in the numbers employed in heavy manufacturing and changes to asbestos disease law).

Now look at CRU figures for registered RTA claims:

2006/07 – 518,821
2007-08 – 551,905
2008/09 – 625,072
2009/10 – 674,997
2010/11 – 790,999

A 52% increase over the period.

CRU figures for clinical negligence:

2006/07 – 8,575
2007-08 – 8,876
2008/09 – 9,880
2009/10 – 10,308
2010/11 – 13,022

A 52% increase.

CRU figures for total claims registered:

2006/07 – 710,784
2007-08 – 732,750
2008/09 – 812,348
2009/10 – 861,325
2010/11 – 987,381

A 39% increase

Damn that ‘compensation myth’.”

Again, it didn’t make it past the censors.

If you’re not prepared to allow criticism, turn off the comments option.

11 thoughts on “Compensation culture”

  1. I agree your statistics, of course, although rather than see this as indication of an unfortunate decline in the morals of society at large, I view it as evidence of the overwhelming success of alternative methods of funding introduced following withdrawal of legal aid for the majority of civil litigation. The aim was to ensure access to justice for all and it would appear that this is what it has done. Rather than criticising Claimants for making claims in respect of injuries which are proven by medical evidence and often approved by the courts, should we not be looking further up the food chain to the cause of some of these claims – surely if so many more individuals have pursued successful claims against the NHS – who are legendary in their reluctance to admit any liability, even in the face of overwhelming evidence – then surely the blame for huge increases in claims and consequential costs lies at their feet and not at the feet of individuals making entirely legitimate and wholly proven claims..?
    If there is a compensation culture, which appears evident, then the Government and the compensators need to get their own house in order, rather than blaming individuals for quite rightly holding them to account and denying them the access to justice which was once held so dear, but which is now clearly too expensive.

  2. Apparently the NUMBER of RTA’s has gone down, your evidence and others sources show that the number of CLAIMS has gone up, many people seem to get those statistics confused. Interesting blog entry

  3. couple of questions

    hasnt the number of CRU appeals also gone up?

    Do benefits not increase with inflation?

    Isnt the number of meso claims coming towards the 2016 peak? they get very high level of benefits

    Do ambulabance fees now fall as part of CRU? if so such fees would they have been present in the early stats?

  4. If anyone thinks minor whiplash injuries are “proved” by medical evidence, they are deluded. You got to a GP expert about 4 months post RTA. You tell him that your neck was very painful for a week or two, but symptoms gradually resolved over the course of the next 3 months. He writes this down, conducts a very simply examination to see if you are moving your neck OK. He then writes down “examination confirms a full recovery as stated.”

    You then collect a tax free cheque for about £1,250.

    Almost everyone now knows about this, and lots of otherwise honest people see it as OK to claim such symptoms post RTA and pocket the cheque.

    I don’t suggest there are easy answers, but if you think this isn’t happening, and that it isn’t a problem, you are mistaken.

  5. An observation or two if I may.
    I agree that if you make a public statement you should expect a public response and that if you encourage comments and feedback you should not censor the same. What the whole debate about LASPO and the proposed changes to civil justice actually needs is informed debate and analysis – sadly missing from the MoJ impact assessments and the political rhetoric used to justify it.
    You refer to the increase in claims for clinical negligence but the figures you have cited are only half the picture.
    If, for example, you had considered the CRU figures for a 10 year period you would observe that in 2000/01 the CRU recorded 10,901 claims for clinical negligence. The figure for 2009/10 (which you do quote) was 10,308. The conclusion you could draw therefore is that far from there having been an increase in claims, that in fact there are less claims being brought than there were 10 years ago. That is in the context of an NHS that now provides 3m patient treatments a week.
    There has been a spike in the most recent year for which data is available, 2010/11, to 13,022. However the footnote to the NHSLA Annual Report for 2010/11 explains why: “Part of the significant increase in claims under CNST may be explained to some extent by the requirement for claimants to now send us a copy of the Letter of Claim at the same time as it is sent to the defendant NHS body, at which point we now record the claim.” For the record (and as you know) on 01.10.10 the 53rd CPR Update was introduced which implemented two of Sir Rupert Jackson’s recommendations. First the time for defendants in clinical negligence claims to serve their Letter of Response under the clinical disputes protocol was extended from 3 months to 4 months. Second, claimant’s solicitors were required to send a copy of the Letter of Claim direct to the NHSLA. Previously, the letters were sent solely to the Trust in question who would often take several weeks (if not months) to send it on the NHSLA where it would be officially recorded in their statistics as a claim. The immediate impact of this change was that claims which may have taken 3 to 4 months to reach the NHSLA were notified immediately. The consequence is that perhaps 15 months of worth of claims were received in a 12 month period creating an artificial spike in the numbers which is a one-off due to the reporting changes. The key figure will be the 2011/12 figures later this year when we will be able to measure accurately the year on year increase without the one-off distortion of the change in reporting. Perhaps we can resume the debate then about what the figures show but I would suggest that in the context of 3m NHS patient treatments a week and the 6th report (2008/09) of the House of Commons Health Select Committee confirming that 10% of all patients admitted to hospital suffer some form of harm from an “adverse incident” and with the National Patient Safety Agency (an NHS body) confirming over 1.1m adverse incidents reported for 2010/11 the real question is why do so few people claim?
    The 10,000 odd claims made in 2000/01 would virtually all have been made under legal aid as CFAs in clinical negligence were rare if not non-existent yet far more people were financially eligible for legal aid. It has taken 10 years of CFAs to get us back to where we started from!
    The proper debate should not be about is there or is there not a compensation culture (Lord Young looked at all claims including clinical negligence and confirmed in his report that the compensation culture was a perception, not a reality) but why do 1 in 10 hospital admissions result in adverse incidents and why do so few people make a claim even when CFAs and ATE provide genuine access to justice (for now).
    The most telling statistics will be the CRU figures for the year after April 2013 when these reforms are now due to be implemented. The MoJ’s impact assessment contains very little actual evidence but one thing it does contain is the admission that the expected impact of these reforms is the volume of claims (all claims) will fall.
    The NHS budget has been “ring-fenced” from deficit cuts so that the budget will not be cut. However, keeping the budget the same for a four year period at a time when inflation in the health service is running at about 8%pa is potentially equivalent to a cut in real terms over a four year period of perhaps a third. If 1 in 10 admissions currently results in an adverse incident causing harm what will the figures look like in four years time when the budget in real terms has been so significantly reduced?

  6. I just decided to read their article about the Magna Carta(I thought I could do with some entertainment). It was so incredibly bad that I actually felt embarrassed reading it. I could hardly believe they made some of the statements they made, like the thing about government not having the right to change laws etc! They don’t understand much about the constitution, clearly.

    This sort of thing really damages Claimant lawyers’ arguments. When will they realise this?

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