Lawyers Denounce Whiplash Reform as Attack on Justice 


Intended Government changes to the way whiplash claims are dealt with have been attacked as a breach of individuals’ human rights.

A number of the country’s leading personal injury law firms are preparing to seek a judicial review of the plans, which would mean claimants only being able to choose from a restricted list of medical experts rather than select their own.

They claim that the move would severely impede people’s ability to prepare their own claim, something which they allege would infringe their human rights.

Mark Jones, a partner at JMW Solicitors and the lawyer acting for the group, said there were concerns that the shift could ultimately result in people pursuing any personal injury action being denied justice.

“We share the desire of ministers and the insurance industry to clamp down on the number of fraudulent claims. However, that should not be at the cost of the legitimate claimant being allowed to make a genuine claim.

“If the changes put forward take effect it would amount to a quantum leap by the Government and would be nothing short of an attack on justice. We would move from an adversarial system to a more inquisitorial one and reduce the process of making a claim to a form-filling exercise.

“It could prevent more than 900,000 people forced to make legitimate whiplash claims each year full access to justice. It cannot be right that a claimant is refused the right to carefully select a properly qualified and accredited expert and is told instead they must choose someone from a more limited list made available to them.

“Furthermore, we strongly believe that this is of importance for an even larger audience. There is no reason to think that these changes would not just affect whiplash cases but would subsequently be applied to all personal injury and other civil claims. That is a prospect which simply needs to be challenged.”

Mr Jones described how an invitation had been issued to other personal injury lawyers, either as individual firms or through their representative bodies, such as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), the Law Society and the Personal Injury Bar Association, to join the campaign to halt the reforms.

The plans were the subject of a month-long consultation, which closed at the beginning of October.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed earlier this week [December 2nd] that the changes were likely to come into force early in 2015.

Justice Minister Lord Faulks has claimed that they would ensure “any conflicts of interest are removed from the system”.

The threat of legal action by Britain’s personal injury lawyers is the latest obstacle which the proposals have encountered in the last few months.

A report published in July by the Commons’ Transport Select Committee stressed that before implementing any changes “Government must continue to engage with all interested parties, rather than just with the insurance industry, as has been the case in the past”.

The document went on to urge caution on the use of a register of approved medical experts, concluding that “numerous detailed matters are being decided hastily and, in some cases, without much consideration of different options”.

Mr Jones described ministers’ proposed use of the panel of experts as “irrational and anti-competitive”.

“On the one hand, Government has been telling us that it wants to support entrepreneurial business and yet, at the same time, would be preventing many law firms and medical agencies from conducting and expanding their current enterprises which could lead to serious adverse consequences, including selling or closing parts of their operations and making staff redundant.

“We feel that this is one of a number of points which show the reforms to be ill-conceived and underlines why we believe they should be challenged in the courts.”




For more information:

Samantha Meakin

0161 828 1981


Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is one of the leading Manchester law firms and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.  We are committed to providing legal services in a cost effective and timely manner.


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