Personal injury solicitors will no doubt be aware that the House of Lords debated the new Legal Aid bill last week.
The proposal to ban referral fees won support from Lord Hunt of Wirral. The peer pointed out that whiplash claims have increased by 72% over the last eight years, despite a 16% reduction in the number of road traffic accidents. This has had a knock on effect on every single UK motorist through increased insurance premiums.
Whilst a lot of people might like to see the back of referral fees, the proposal to remove the right to legal aid from medical negligence cases has caused a huge outcry.
Viscount Simon said that removing medical negligence from the scope of legal aid would mean thousands of people will not have their case investigated and the NHS will be denied the opportunity to improve patient safety. The majority of medical negligence cases occur at the hands of the state run NHS, so surely the state should make sure victims can access justice, he concluded.
Still on a medical theme, Baroness O’Loan cited the effects clinical negligence can have on a family when a child suffers severe injuries during birth. The parents often have to dedicate their entire lives to providing full-time care for their child. The majority of parents would be unable to afford to provide this care without the help of personal injury compensation. But the bill as it stands is going to take away the right to claim that compensation from all but the very wealthy. That cannot be fair.