94pc of legal professionals say access to justice to suffer

INDUSTRY ROUND UP FOR WEEK ENDING 25 DEC 2012

Next year is bound to bring a reduction in access to justice, causing many in need of injury compensation to suffer, a majority of legal professionals say.

The news is positively chilling this week, as a new survey revealed that an incredibly overwhelming 94 per cent of personal injury solicitor experts believe that those in need of help making a personal injury claim will be left high and dry when it comes to access to justice in April of next year when new government legislation goes into effect. These personal injury lawyers fear that the new Legal Aid bill, which has been brought forward as a way to reduce runaway premium pricing when it comes to motor car insurance, will end up crippling any victim of a road traffic accident on the hunt for a lawyer to help them prevail on their claim, as the proposed changes will cut nearly 60 per cent from the fixed fees these lawyers can collect.

Onetime president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, David Bott, conducted the survey that discovered that the lion’s share of injury lawyers are fearful that these newly reduced fees will do little more than reduce access to justice for only those claimants with incredibly high monetary compensation awards, as it will simply not be cost-effective for most law firms to take on cases that won’t maximise their pay. the survey found that an even higher 96 per cent of respondents found the new legislation to be entirely excessive, whilst a nearly identical 95 per cent indicated that legal firms specialising in personal injury compensation claims will be hard pressed to remain in operation past the April 2013 deadline.

These aren’t the only steps the Government is taking in the new Legal Aid bill that could effectively backfire when it comes to benefiting the injured. The new legislation would also see an end to law firms paying for cases by banning the taking of referral fees, a move that only 16 per cent of those surveyed would result in aiding the injured; meanwhile 77 per cent of respondents were emphatic in their belief that this referral fee ban would benefit no one but the insurance industry.

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