Law Squirrel

Labour Backs Campaign Against Personal Injury Reforms

labour-logoA campaign against the government’s proposed changes to personal injury and small claims law has received the support of the Labour Party. Richard Burgon, the opposition’s shadow justice secretary, voiced his support for the campaign and criticised the government’s handling of the reforms.

One of the core claims being made by the initiative is that the reforms will lead to money being given to private insurance companies at the expense of taxpayers, injured compensation claimants, and the NHS. Specifically, it is claimed that £200 million a year from these sources will be redirected to four of the UK’s major insurance firms; Admiral, Aviva, Axa, and Direct Line.

The campaign, originated by Thompsons, recently performed an elaborate publicity stunt in order to raise awareness of their concerns. A sleigh, filled with giant presents, departed from Westminster to visit the UK headquarters of these four insurers. Chief executives from these firms were then handed large, personalised “gifts” made out to be from the justice secretary Liz Truss.

The campaign claims that the personal injury reforms, ostensibly aimed at whiplash claims but with implications for many other cases as well, would unfairly bolster the profits of insurance companies. The extra money in the pockets of these firms, it is claimed, would come at the expense of injury claimants who would find it harder to make their claims and receive smaller settlements, and from funds that would otherwise be allocated to NHS services.

Announcing his support for the initiative, the shadow justice secretary was critical of the move and particularly of its wider-reaching implications for workplace injury compensation claims.

“The government has offered no justification for including work accidents in what is being billed as a reform of whiplash,” Burgon said. “The proposed changes are in fact about the insurance industry seizing control of the legal process and undermining the longstanding legal principle that the guilty party pays.”

Burgon also described the reforms as “a licence for insurance companies to under-settle or not pay out at all to nearly a million injured people a year.”

One of Burgon’s colleagues, shadow justice minister Christina Rees, also voiced her criticisms of the proposals. Rees said that the reforms were “an outrage,” and that “the government openly concedes their proposed changes will starve the NHS and the Treasury of millions while gifting insurers at least £200m in extra profit each year.”

This campaign and prominent voices such as the Law Society are now calling for the consultation on these proposals to be extended. Currently, the proposal is due to end early next year.

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