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Approved Judgment in the case of Hester v May [2018]

20th July 2018

Principia Law wins another successful appeal case on the issue of enforceability of rental agreements at Manchester County Court.

Non-fault drivers could be left £3000 out of pocket following a collision

4th June 2018

New research from the RAC says 36% of drivers had lost out following accidents that weren’t their fault...

The Dangers of the Government’s Plans to Remove the Claimant's Right to Claim General Damages for a Soft Tissue Injury

7th December 2015

Principia Law pursues personal injury (PI) claims for innocent victims of road traffic accidents, including personal injury and other uninsured losses.

The proposed changes to the small claims limit on PI cases, together with the proposed removal of the right to recover general damages (money) for 'minor' soft tissue injuries, in our view will have a profound effect on the ability of the Claimant to gain access to justice.

Whilst we consider the increase in the small claims PI limit to be a real threat to claimant interests, it is the combination of the increase and the proposed ban on monetary damages that is potentially catastrophic to innocent Claimants.

The following case studies are actual cases handled by Principia Law.

Case Study 1

One of our clients had what would be considered a minor road traffic accident. The original solicitors dealing obtained a medical report which showed a minor soft tissue injury, well under the limit of the proposed small claims change.

Without some way of funding the case, neither the solicitor OR the client would have pursue the case.

In this case (which resolved last week) Principia took over the conduct of the case, as the Claimant felt that the medical prognosis was incorrect and they felt "out of sorts" bar the soft tissue injury.

Upon further investigation and meetings with the Client, we identified that the Client was suffering from a heart condition.

Upon further medical investigation, the Claimant was diagnosed with having suffered an atrial fibrillation, on balance attributed from the collision, which resulted in an increase risk of suffering a stroke.

Case Study 2

The Claimant suffered a road traffic collision in 2012, again a fairly minor collision, which resulted in an initial prognosis of a soft tissue injury to resolve within 12 months.

Under the planned changes by our government, this would fall within the proposed small claims limit and if the Government’s further planned changes go through to remove the ability of a Claimant to pursue general damages for a soft tissue injury, in all likelihood this claim would not have been pursued.

In this case the Claimant failed to recover and the Claimant developed Chronic Pain and was unable to work. Currently an occupational report provides extensive care needs for this client, together with home adaptations.

Whilst this claim is now a significant claim and the schedule of losses being currently prepared will be in excess of £200,000 to account for the ongoing lost earnings, this case demonstrates the risks of claims which appear to be minor in nature being pursued.

Conclusion

Principia Law have real concerns over the changes proposed.

a) The changes will inevitably lead to innocent Claimant's having no right of access to justice

b) Innocent Claimant's where serious injuries have occurred but are hidden in the initial stages will have potentially life changing claims, which they will not be able to gain compensation for. It is clear that the Government proposals are for the benefit of the insurance industry, not for the benefit of the innocent driver as they have stated, what about the innocent victim of an accident?

A petition is online at - https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/113810 and we would encourage all to sign the petition to prevent this underhand attempt to deny access to justice.

Government removes access to justice for innocent claimants

1st December 2015

1. Plans to raise the small claims threshold from £1,000 to £5,000

The Chancellor announced changes to allow more injuries to be able to go to the small claims court, by increasing the upper limit for these claims from £1,000 to £5,000. What this means is that the maximum a solicitor acting for a claimant can get in fixed costs for pursuing a claim below £5,000, is £70. So what does less than £5,000 claim look like?

  • An elbow or back/neck injury causing discomfort for up to two years
  • A simple fracture of wrist, finger, leg, or arm
  • Loss of part of the little finger

These changes could mean that innocent victims will not be able to find legal representation; that some claimants will pay far more out of their damages claim, perhaps 50% or more; and claimants will be forced to accept far lower levels of compensation, as no effective access to justice exists.

2. End the right to cash compensation for minor whiplash claims

This means that for a ‘soft tissue injury’ affecting the neck and back, no cash compensation will be paid. This overturns centuries of law that has allowed the right of claimants to be compensated for harm, if caused by the negligence of another. It means that a ‘soft tissue injury’ caused by a slip or fall (or even a criminal act) can be compensated by cash, but not a Road Traffic Accident.

Whilst there is no set definition of ‘minor’, the change in the small claims limit may point to the Government’s thinking.

Savings in premiums for all (?)

The Chancellor said that with these changes, motor insurers would be spared more that £1 billion in costs – savingsthe government expects to be passed on to consumers, resulting in a fall of £40-£50 on car insurance policies.

However, examination of the Government’s own figures on the impact of these changes to treasury income through Insurance Premium tax, shows that only about a third to a half of this £1bn will be passed to consumers through reduced premiums, resulting in a reduction of £12 to £20 over 5 years.

What can you do if you disagree with these changes?

A petition started on the Government’s petitions website states that the chance of each motorist getting £40 off their insurance is “so slim there is no incentive for the public to have the small claims track limit increased”.

Thousands of people have already signed the petition opposing the Chancellors plans to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims. If you are interested in learning more about the petition, please visit:

petition.parliament.uk/petitions/113810

MOJ Court Fee Hikes – APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) Condemns as "Outrageous"

22nd July 2015

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has spoken out over ‘outrageous’ increases in court fees, which will significantly impact on access to justice for innocent victims of personal injuries, as well as businesses chasing fees from customers.

The Ministry of Justice has rolled out a regime where claimants could see the costs of court fees increasing up to a third in minor cases, and rising further (up to 560% increase) in serious injury cases over £200,000, which could massively impact upon the number of customers claiming for non fault personal injuries.

APIL president John Spencer said: "The Government's claim that fees are not a major factor in a person's decision about whether or not to go to court is completely disingenuous.

This move is bound to discourage people from making valid claims – people who have every right to make them- and the idea that seriously injured people making higher value claims are more likely to be able to afford the new fees is outrageous” (http://ow.ly/HHLfF).

According to the Solicitor’s Journal, the proposals, which introduce a fee to commence proceedings for the recovery of money of 5% of the value of the claim on actions for more than £10,000, will affect businesses and individuals bringing claims for late payments, debt and compensation of up to £200,000, and will deter many from pursuing money they are owed. (http://ow.ly/HHBAe)

The representative body for barristers (Bar Council) also warned that small businesses already hamstrung by late payments from customers would either not be able to pursue a claim or risk paying a hefty court fee, which could be as much as £10,000 for larger claims.

Chairman of the Bar Council, Alistair MacDonald QC, said: "Cash-flow is the life blood of small businesses and many end up having to pursue late payments and other debts through the court system. Imposing a 5% fee may well make many small businesses think twice before making that claim, and will certainly strengthen the hand of late payers."

Pointing out that the planned increases have sparked criticism from both the judiciary and Civil Justice Council, APIL President Mr Spencer adds that the courts operate for the public good, and should therefore be funded through taxation, with users paying a contribution towards the costs.

"These people do not ask to be injured. They are injured because someone else is negligent. To expect them, on top of all that, to pay a court fee which represents more than the actual cost of the service is simply unacceptable."

“The severity of an injury has nothing to do with the injured person's capacity to pay for access to justice”.

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