Criticism of allocation of doctors to assess whiplash claims

Concerns raised about the Government's plan for a "cab rank" system of allocating doctors to assess whiplash claims. The concerns centre around the proposed MedCo system on the basis that it has the potential to add costs and confusion and be impractical for victims. Solicitors have criticised the Secretary of State for Justice for his commitment to a random allocation of doctors to diagnose whiplash cases.  From 6 April 2015, doctors must be registered with MedCo Registration Solutions in order to provide a report for a soft tissue injury claim. A £180 fixed fee for medical assessment was introduced in October also. They will be accredited from 1 January 2016. Law Society Gazette, December 19, 2014 (Online edition)

Ambulance chasers are still out there

Consumers are continuing to receive unsolicited phone calls relating to accident claims, according to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The ICO has stated that it has received 2,355 complaints from people relating to calls or texts asking if they had suffered an accident, and added that this is the third most common cause of complaints behind boiler replacement and solar panels offers, and come at a time when the government has indicated a fresh drive to stop nuisance calls. A consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport closed last week – and the department is likely to seek to lower the threshold for penalising those found to be making the calls. The law currently requires the ICO to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by its conduct and the government’s preferred option is to remove this threshold.

Support for mesothelioma suffers

The Ministry of Justice has announced measures to support sufferers of the industrial disease mesothelioma and their families. The changes, designed to speed up compensation claims for victims of the terminal condition, include: work with the National Cancer Registration Service and Public Health England to speed up the process of obtaining hospital medical records; and giving HMRC the ability to provide the work records of deceased victims to their dependants without permission from the courts.

78th Update to the CPR

The Civil Procedure (Amendment No 8) Rules 2014 and Practice Direction making document, comprising the 78th update to the CPR, have been published. Most of the amendments, including changes to CPR 36, enter into force on 6 April 2015

The CPR amendments of relevance to Corporate Claims include:

  • CPR 21: The changes aim to address the situation where full recovery of costs from the other party to the proceedings is not achieved or is not possible following the changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. The changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.
  • CPR 30: The amendments require the court, when considering making an order for transferring proceedings to another court, to consider the availability of a specialist judge sitting in an appropriate regional specialist court. The changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.
  • CPR 36: The current CPR 36 substituted by a revised Part which aligns the rules with relevant case law and re-arranges the order of the rules. Consequential amendments are also made to other Parts, including CPR 37 and CPR 44. The changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.
  • CPR 45: The amendments reflect changes to the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents. The changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.

A transitional provision is also included which states that the amendments to CPR 36 generally apply only in relation to CPR 36 offers made on or after 6 April 2015. However, some of the amendments made (for example those relating to definitions, acceptance and restriction of disclosure of an offer) will apply in relation to any Part 36 offer made before 6 April 2015 where the trial of any part of the claim, or issue arising in it, starts on or after 6 April 2015. In addition, certain forms will be removed and others amended. Amendments have also been made to the corresponding Practice Directions and will come into force on 6 April 2015.

Concerns expressed by ABI over NIHL claims.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has reiterated its call for fixed legal fees to be introduced to curb excessive legal costs that are making industrial deafness claims the "new cash cow" for claimant lawyers.   The ABI reports that, during March 2014, 3,500 notifications for industrial deafness were made to the Compensation Recovery Unit, compared to 1,000 in March 2012.

APIL reports a fall in the number of whiplash claims. 

John Spencer, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), has reported that the number of whiplash claims has fallen by 29 per cent in only four years, with just under 567,000 claims in the financial year 2010-11 but only 401,584 in 2013-14.