I always think it’s interesting to get a legal perspective from my English friend Jim Loxley of My Compensation, a personal injury compensation specialist based in London. This is his latest guest post:
Most developed countries these days have got some kind of system in place to allow justice to be afforded to those in difficult financial circumstances. In the UK, we have the Legal Aid Bill and through taxpayers money, people who are worse-off than most receive a collective £2 billion per year to make sure they can take offending parties to court should the need arise. There are a number of restrictions surrounding eligibility, but Legal Aid ultimately means that they can see justice done even if they’re not wealthy.
In the late 90s, personal injury cases were removed from the Legal Aid Bill. In replacement for taking away this help from personal injury victims came the Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFA) also now known as the ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangement. The basic idea is that people can take up personal injury claims and do not have to pay unless their lawsuit is successful. If they lose, there’s no fee. This essentially was better for personal injury victims and it really did afford justice to the masses and save the government some funding. However, it proved to be a little too effective.
Along came the badly-timed economic downturn and around the same time, one or two other factors saw things spiral out of control. A few cowboy personal injury claims companies made unsolicited phone calls to persuade people in court, flying in the face of just about every Ministry of Justice regulation. Meanwhile, the media printed sensationalist stories on the frivolous claims which made their way through the justice system and hinted at easy money, thus forming what is now known as the ‘compensation culture’. So many auto accident claims and personal injury claims are pushing motor insurance premiums through the roof, rising 60% in a few short years. It’s very bad for the economy.
In a bid to remedy the situation, changes are being applied to UK law in April 2013. The ‘no-win, no-fee’ claims are being removed so that people have to think twice about making claims as it could cost them money. This means that, as time goes on, there will be more and more people caught in a grey area where their personal injury cases have a few points which may make it easier for the defending parties to build a case. If these individuals are in poor financial circumstances, they may end up losing the case and costing themselves a lot of money that they don’t have.
I was surprised to find out that not only is personal injury not going back on the Legal Aid Bill, but the budget is being cut by an estimated £300 million. This is one step away from justice for the masses, which was surely the goal in the first place. There will now be people stuck with considerable financial damages that can’t afford to get help. I sincerely hope that blogs such as P.I.S.S.D and others around the net get noticed as the issue builds momentum and time goes on. Disabled and injured people do get a raw deal in society and, as I’ve said before, really they should be getting the special treatment they need.