Last week, road safety minister, Mike Penning, attacked personal injury solicitors who practice ‘ambulance chasing’ after road traffic accidents. The Law Society has now hit back at his claims.
During Mr Penning’s evidence to a transport committee inquiry into the rising cost of car insurance premiums, he said the UK risked adopting an American style of compensation culture.
He mentioned the huge burden that personal injury claims and fraudulent practices put on motor insurance premiums but remarked that he did not have the power to legislate on personal injury costs. These issues are currently under discussion with the Ministry of Justice, he added.
Penning said he finds it abhorrent that personal injury lawyers are ambulance chasers. If something isn’t done about it we’ll have a situation where solicitors are turning up at RTAs, waving forms at victims and promising to represent them. Commercial radio stations already broadcast advertisements promising personal injury compensation for accident victims, he continued.
The Minister would like to see a minimum speed limit introduced under which claims for whiplash cannot be made, a similar system to that recently introduced in Germany.
Desmond Hudson, the chief executive of the Law Society, said he found Penning’s irresponsible remarks offensive to the legal profession. He pointed out that the backbone of the UK’s legal system was to ensure that people harmed by a third party’s negligence are entitled to compensation.
Hudson has offered to meet Penning and the Ministry of Justice to paint a clearer picture of the work done by solicitors.