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Association of Personal Injury Lawyers give report to whiplash inquiry

April 25 2013

The Association of Personal Injury Laywers (APIL) has made representations to a House of Commons Transport Select Committee inquiry into whiplash claims.

The committee wants to establish whether the Government is correct in describing the UK as the ‘whiplash capital of the world’ and what proportion of claims are exaggerated or fabricated.

The Ministry of Justice has already consulted on increasing the small-claims court threshold from £1,000 to £5,000 with a decision expected this spring.

APIL disagrees with the proposal and thinks decisions are being made based on inaccurate information.

The APIL report states: “We have been very clear about with our views on the impact of these proposals for injured people.

“Hundreds of thousands of cases would be forced through the small claims system, and this is a court which is designed for people to represent themselves.

“The small claims court is traditionally used for settling disputes about faulty goods and services.

“Personal injury cases are different. They all require an ability to gather the right evidence and, at the very least, have a knowledge of the value of their claim.

“Injured people will have to choose whether to pay for legal representation out of their own pockets (which they don’t have to do at the moment) or face the defendants (who usually do have legal representation) in court themselves, or not claim at all.

“The Government’s own Compensation Recovery Unit statistics on the number of whiplash related claims show that claims fell by almost 24,000 during 2011/2012.

“While the figure may still be considered high, it is important to recognise that the number has decreased on the previous year which suggests that the situation is not “spiralling out of control” as is often claimed.

“The assertion that Britain leads the world in whiplash claims has been made popular by the insurance industry, in its efforts to restrict these claims, cut costs, and increase profits for insurers and their shareholders. It is extremely disappointing that the Government appears to have accepted wholesale an argument which is based entirely on an outdated, inaccurate and biased report.”

The APIL has also suggested a number of steps which could be taken to reduce the cost of insurance and better ways to tackle fraud.