Recent personal injury reforms may reduce access to justice

The Legal Service Board have recently released a report assessing the different changes to the legal system over recent years, and whether this has affected people gaining access to justice in the personal injury market.


United Kingdom – WEBWIRE – Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We need to ensure that anyone who has been injured through no fault of their own has access to specialist legal services to help them get the compensation they deserve. They should not be excluded from justice because of lower skilled staff potentially mishandling claims or, in many cases, because some law firms simply will not take on more riskier or complex claims.

The Legal Service Board have recently released a report assessing the different changes to the legal system over recent years, and whether this has affected people gaining access to justice in the personal injury market.

The most recent reforms to the legal system for personal injury claims arose from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), which was introduced in April 2013. Previous reforms had liberalised the market by introducing Conditional Fee Agreements and making success fees available from defendants, as well as allowing referral fees. These reforms are thought to have increased access to justice in PI cases.

However, as of the 1st April 2013, LASPO stopped the requirement for Defendants to pay the success fee to personal injury lawyers. Thus, success fees now have to come out of a client’s damages. Also, fixed fees have been introduced for injury lawyers on certain types of cases, so solicitors will only receive a fixed amount of payment from the other side for their work, regardless of the complexity of the claim, and the amount of work that may have been completed.

This shift in the legal system is thought to have reduced people’s access to justice in several ways.

Firstly, as stated above, clients will no longer receive all of their compensation which means that some clients may not think it worth going through the process of making a claim. However, clients are still protected in terms of ‘no win no fee’ in that if their claim is unsuccessful they do not carry any financial risk and won’t have to pay any fees. Clients also have the benefit of ‘free-at-the-point of use’ legal services as there is no upfront cost.

It is also feared that people with more risky or complex compensation claims may have reduced access to justice in that many firms will not take on such claims given reduced fees and more uncertainty over the chance of succeeding in those claims.

There is also the additional fear that due to reduced fees in the shape of fixed cost, many firms will use lesser qualified or non legal staff to run these types of compensation claims. Even complex cases may be managed by individuals who do not have the adequate legal knowledge to deal with them which could result in a poorer service for clients and the potential for more mistakes to be made and also potentially under settlement of some claims.

The potential for reduced access to justice for accident victims is hugely worrying. At Freeclaim Solicitors, we believe it is important for clients to receive the best legal service and expertise available. We are passionate about not only helping our clients to claim the compensation they deserve, but also helping them to recover more quickly from their injuries with the correct rehabilitation and treatments.

Alastair Fernie, Managing Director of Freeclaim Solicitors, commented, “We need to ensure that anyone who has been injured through no fault of their own has access to specialist legal services to help them get the compensation they deserve. They should not be excluded from justice because of lower skilled staff potentially mishandling claims or, in many cases, because some law firms simply will not take on more riskier or complex claims.”

At Freeclaim Solicitors, we are independent specialist personal injury solicitors. We have over 25 years’ experience helping clients with accident compensation claims. We ensure all claims are handled by suitable qualified and experienced solicitors. Plus, due to our experience, we not only have many expert solicitors, but a large knowledge base and as such we can normally take on compensation claims that other firms have declined.  

If you have been injured and want to know more about how Freeclaim Solicitors can help, visit our website http://www.freeclaim.co.uk. Our accident advice helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0800 612 7340 – all enquiries are free and in confidence.


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