Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 28th Aug 2012:
It seems like everyone’s gone barmy when it comes to personal injury compensation, just because of the new Legal Aid law that’s going into effect in April of 2013 – and apparently insanity is a bit contagious, if you judge by the last week’s trending news stories.
First – and this isn’t necessarily news, as the Legal Aid law spent literally months and months working its way through Parliament – but personal injury solicitors aren’t going to be able to soak losing defendants for massive success fees anymore. Instead, successful claimants will have to pay their own legal fees out of their compensation awards – and in order to make sure there’s still some cash left over for injured claimants, the new law both limits the amount lawyers can charge and increases the standard compensation amount by 10 per cent.
Seems like a pretty simple arrangement, doesn’t it? Well, some personal injury lawyers are absolutely up in arms over the change, claiming that the new changes are going to lead to a decline in access to justice for anyone without a massive compensation claim, as no win no feelawyers will begin to pick and choose which cases to take in order to maximise their profits.
Of course, these law firms never say that they will be the ones to engage in such dastardly behaviour. Oh, no – it’s always ‘those disreputable ambulance chasers’ that are going to engage in such activities, as if the veiled threat isn’t immediately apparent.
Meanwhile, it’s not just random law firms that have gotten all out of sorts over the new rules going into effect. The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority has gotten in on the act as well, but they’ve taken a different route – they’re criticising the ban on referral fees, those little under-the-table payments that law firms up until recently were allowed to make to insurers or claims management companies in return for big fat lists of possible clients.
The problem with banning the taking of referral fees, says the SRA in its infinite wisdom, because law firms and CMCs will simply find a way around the ban by putting a false beard and a new pair of trousers on and just call it something else instead. So good luck with cutting back on spurious claims that have been drummed up by trawling insurers’ accident claim lists, says the regulator.