Past returns with a vengeance as future looks uncertain

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 25 March 2014:

The realm of personal injury claims becomes increasingly difficult to navigate as new regulations loom on the horizon and old injury cases come home to roost.

If there’s anything constant, it’s the fact that the law always changes and evolves. Ask any personal injury lawyer and they’ll tell you the same: case law adapts over time and the legal landscape shifts along with it. However, sometimes it seems that change comes so quickly and from so many different quarters that it can exhaust even the most veteran of personal injury solicitors.

A good example of this is how old cases that were seemingly decided years ago can come back with a vengeance, such as the personal injury compensation case made by Joanne Dunhill. The 53 year old woman ended up with around £12,000 in damages several years ago after a catastrophic accident but the Supreme Court recently took another look at the case, announcing that she may be owed more money than she originally received as new facts came to light about the nature of her injuries and the original case as it unfolded all those years ago.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not terribly rare either; in fact many cases might get revisited from time to time. Many judges tend to avoid doing it just on the fact that it could have serious repercussions for case law and already set precedent, but when a case is strong enough to warrant it it’s only natural – and I’m glad that Mrs Dunhill might get a bit more money than she originally received. Of course, there could be more than just justice being sought by British courts – especially if allegations made by the Law Society this week turn out to be true.

The Law Society says that the new ‘Jackson reforms’ that went into effect recently have changed the way jurisprudence is conducted in the UK in a fundamental way. Courts now are more interested in managing administrative costs than providing access to justice, claims the Law Society, and that’s bad news for anyone who’s in dire need of legal aid.

It’s not just the Law Society that’s had it with the Jackson reforms. The Civil Justice Council has also taken issue, especially since the end effect has seen legal bills for claimants and clients increase. The reforms are an unmitigated failure claims the CJC based on the fact that there’s so much inconsistency with these new rules, and that it takes so bloody long to comply with them. It’s a damned shame considering these reforms were originally imagined as a way to support claimants and not discourage them from making claims, but what can you do? This is what happens when good ideas are given to the Government: they’re ruined, sometimes irrevocably.

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