The 14th edition of the Judicial College (JC) Guidelines was published on 14 September 2017.
The guidelines do not bring any significant changes to the level of damages for personal injury. Instead all brackets have been increased to reflect inflation (an increase of 4.8% since the last edition of the JC Guidelines).
A whiplash injury lasting 3 months will now be awarded between £1,200 to £2,150 (up from £1,160 to £2,050). However, insurers should also be alert to likely changes to the level of awards for whiplash injuries following the implementation of the Civil Liability Bill, which it is hoped will come into force prior to the next edition of the JC Guidelines.
Insurers in lower value claims may need to reassess their settlement offers in light of these increases to ensure they have sufficient costs protection. Indeed insurers may be subject to adverse findings in some Stage 3 hearings in the short term where 'insufficient' offers were made under the old Guidelines.
The Judicial College Guidelines Committee has decided to move away from differentiating awards based on gender for scarring injuries. However the subjective views of the injured individual about the scarring effects on them psychologically will still remain a key factor when determining quantum.
Mr Justice Langstaff who chairs the JC Guidelines Committee makes reference, in his new introduction, to the weight to be given to the duration of any symptoms in minor injuries. He notes legal representatives should not be taking a rigid approach to the length of time the injury was suffered and instead should also take into account other factors which affect quantum.
For example he suggests "recovery may not occur at an even pace over time but may frequently be much more marked in the very early days of recuperation". This could be good news for insurers in limiting payments in lower value claims in instances where the claimant largely recovers in the initial prognosis period. It should be noted the Guidelines are just that and therefore there is room for flexibility from both sides.