The Government is to publish its response to the 'Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury ('whiplash') Claims Process' consultation by 7 April 2017. Depending on the legislative timetable, a draft Bill could follow a few months after.

We previously reported on the Government's consultation paper, which outlined their proposals to further reform the personal injury market, with the honourable aims of combatting fraud and tackling endemic compensation culture. The overall thrust of the reforms is to move towards lower cost claims and, as a consequence, for there to be fewer claims.

The consultation paper outlined a number of proposals including:

  • Claiming general damages: the Government's position in relation to general damages for 'minor' (under 6 months) soft tissue injury claims is to either (i) impose a complete ban on such claims or (ii) place a cap of £400 for such injuries with a maximum of £425 for 6 month injury claims involving a psychological element;
  • Tariff system: ministers are keen to introduce a 'transparent tariff system' for more significant whiplash injuries, as it is thought the tariff will provide increased certainty and reduced entitlement when calculating compensation than the current JC Guidelines; and
  • Small claims threshold: the Government has proposed to raise the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 with a view to clamping down on a 'predatory claims industry' to stop minor, exaggerated or fraudulent claims which are driving up the cost of motor premiums.

The Government also called for responses to drive down the costs and high number of low value Road Traffic Accident related whiplash claims and evidence in relation to the following:

  • Credit Hire;
  • Early Notification of Claims;
  • Rehabilitation;
  • Recoverability of disbursements; and
  • Introducing a Barème type system.