It seems the Ministry of Justice plans to reduce the number of lawsuits pending for those cases in which minor injuries were sustained on the job, whether those lawsuits are frivolous or not. The lower limit for recovering legal costs–an important part of any small claims lawsuit–will be increased to £2,000. Opponents of the measure say that the plan “will penalise victims” who are already suffering, and it’s hard to argue against them.
Personal injury industry experts and attorneys estimate these changes will impact around 350,000 annually. It also means that a lawsuit might not even be a logical course of action for those wronged by their employers. If your legal costs are equal to or greater than the amount of a verdict in your favor, then why bother with the lawsuit in the first place? That might be the point.
The plan’s opposition says that success ratings without the needed legal advice will plummet when the measure takes effect in April 2020. Many of those against the measure are also upset that it won’t be put to a vote. The changes could have been brought to the House of Commons for debate, but the Ministry of Justice decided to make the changes using a statutory instrument.
Advocates and the courts’ service say that a new online claims system will reduce the need for in-person legal advice or proper representation, making small claim lawsuits more consumer friendly and easier to implement. The April 2020 date was chosen to give this system time to be put into place, and also because of steep criticism levied by the Commons’ justice select committee, which essentially said that the Ministry of Justice had done an inept job in determining what the new figure should be.
The Ministry of Justice decided to increase the bottom line to reflect inflation since the original £1,000 was implemented in the 90s–but inflation would only leave the figure at about £1,500. In addition, accounting for inflation is only a single factor in an increasingly complicated equation. There has been a meaningful loss of income during that same time period.
The Ministry of Justice wanted to slash legal costs that result from these personal injury claims while also significantly reducing its own civil liability expenditures.