The Conservatives want to take away your right to free or affordable legal representation if you’re injured. And they plan to use your taxes to pay for it.

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What do you need to know?

Up to now...

If you were injured and your claim was worth over £1,000 any legal fees for a lawyer to fight for you to get back any wages you lost and damages for your injuries, were paid by the person responsible for your injuries. This was a long established right in the law of the UK.

But…

The Conservatives proposed stripping you of this right by increasing the small claims limit.* If the value of your injury claim falls below the new small claims limit, you will have to pay for your own legal fees. Honest people are being targeted - but you can make your voice heard on June 8.

What does this mean in practice?

If you are a victim of injury – anywhere, including at work – you will have to pay for the legal help you need, and deserve, from your compensation or fight the insurers on your own in your own time.

* Previously, only legal cases where the anticipated damages for your pain and suffering were less than £1,000 were heard in the small claims court where you can’t recover legal costs, so most people run cases by themselves without help from a lawyer. That’s fine when it’s a dispute over a mobile phone bill or a washing machine, but not when you’re dealing with a complicated personal injury case which might include police reports and will require medical reports and evidence about what happened.

The Conservatives want to increase the small claims limit by 100% to £2,000 in all non-road traffic personal injury cases and by 500% to £5,000 in road accidents. That would mean 95% of personal injury cases would end up in the small claims court.

Why did the Conservatives want to do this?

The Conservatives said this was all about fraud in road traffic accidents and yet their proposals would have changed the law so that no matter where you were injured, even at work, you would have had to have paid for your own legal fees, rather than those fees being paid by the person who caused your injury.

Insurers have paid out 30% less in motor accident costs than they did in 2010, saving them over £8bn.

Workplace accident claims have fallen 12% in the last decade.

Total number of injury cases has dropped by 6% since 2013.

The insurers have been saying there is a problem with fraud. And yet they paid out 99% of all road traffic accident claims last year suggesting that if there is fraud, it’s only 1% of all claims (making their suggestions that there is a ‘crisis’ seem more than a little thin) or they are paying out in cases they should be fighting. There is no suggestion of a problem with fraudulent workplace accident claims and yet the changes pushed for by the insurers and given into by the Conservatives will affect anybody injured anywhere, including at work.

The Conservative government planned to change the law so that the innocent victims of injury would have to pay for their own legal fees, rather than them being paid by the person who caused their injury. On 8 June, you have a chance to speak up and make your voice heard.

Before 8 June, you can ask the candidates asking for your vote where they stand on raising the small claims limit.

But what are the facts?

Tax Tax Tax

The Conservatives increased insurance premium tax twice in the past year. The insurers made you pay that.
You paid more.

+14%

Premiums are higher now than they were in 2010, and have increased by 14% in the last year.
You're paying more.

-12%

Government data shows employers liability claims (aka workplace accidents) dropped 12% over the last decade and there’s no allegation of fraud in these types of cases. So why have they been included in the changes?
You lose rights.

 

The Conservatives said the new £2,000 limit for small claims reflects inflation, but that’s simply not true. If they increased it using the Retail Price Index or Consumer Price Index (since the last small claims limit increase in 1999), it would only be about £1,500.
You’re losing rights – but not your voice.

So who would pay for this?

Before announcing the snap election, the government was due to bring out an updated ‘impact assessment’ but initial estimates show that their plans would mean the Treasury will lose £135 million. This means every motorist in the UK will be paying insurers twice – once as taxpayers and then again as motorists. The government itself admitted that the changes would cost the taxpayer at least £150 million every year.

Oh, and they’ll also cost the NHS £13 million – that’s before taking into account the associated in-patient or ambulance costs.


Who would really benefit?

Without a doubt, the insurance industry. The Conservatives admitted in their ‘impact assessment’ that the changes would mean insurers would get £200 million more in profit every year. This is on top of already vastly over-inflated salaries: in 2016, the then CEOs of four insurance companies received packages ranging from £3.38 million to £11.25 million.

...

 

£11,252,370

...

 

£3,381,764*

...

Mark Wilson, CEO

£4,352,000

...

Paul Geddes, CEO

£4,066,000

*(3,932,284 Euros converted to GBP on 30 March 2017)

The Conservatives want to let insurance companies remove your right to legal advice and allow CEOs of insurance companies to pocket your protection #FeedingFatCats

How would the changes affect you?

95% of all personal injury claims would have been affected by the Conservative government’s changes. Their changes meant that regardless of where you were injured – even at work – the chances are you would have had to pay out most of what was due to you in compensation for your injuries and your losses and expenses in legal fees.

The alternative under the Conservatives’ plans would mean you would have to make a compensation claim by yourself, without the support of a professional lawyer. Then, you’ll be up against a multinational company, who would, of course, use a lawyer.

The proposed changes have the potential to affect hundreds of thousands of people injured through no fault of their own every year.

The Tories said that the changes meant that ‘some’ drivers ‘could’ save ‘about’ £40 on their car insurance premium. However, it admitted on the record that it wouldn’t force insurers to pass on the savings and the changes would cost the taxpayer at least £150 million every year. These changes would hit every driver hard; but there’s still time to make a difference.

Let’s not forget that the money wouldn’t just come out of your pocket…

The government announced that implementing its policy would cost the NHS £13 million – and that’s before taking into account the associated in-patient or ambulance costs. Oh and the Treasury would lose £135 million. These figures are likely to be huge underestimates.

Would my premiums have actually gone down?

Only two insurers ‘promised’ to pass on savings, and government was on record saying that it wouldn’t force insurers to pass on the savings they said they would make.

Now insurers are backing out of their promises – in fact, you’re likely to see your premium rise. They’re blaming ‘fraud’, government legislation and Insurance Premium Tax for the increases. In fact, anything and anybody but never themselves! But we can change this, together.

When would the changes kick in?

In theory, any government could increase the small claims limit at any time; they don’t need to pass any new legislation to do it.

However, the Conservatives said that they wouldn’t implement the changes in isolation, they were to be part of legal changes covered by the Prisons and Courts Bill (PACB) which they wanted to bring into effect in October 2018.

Take action! How can you try and stop this?

Letting the Conservatives know that you are against these changes and help to prevent nearly one million people a year from losing their right to legal protection.

Lobby your local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Click here to send an automated tweet to parliamentary candidates in your constituency, calling on them to support free legal representation for the injured if they’re elected.

Write to your parliamentary candidate in the General Election

Make your General Election vote count - Click here to send a pre-drafted letter or email to your parliamentary candidate opposing the rise in the small claims limit.

Keep up to date

Watch now to find out what happened when Santa and his Elves travelled all over London to gift insurers with their early Christmas presents, and learn how the government's plans will affect you.

Read the latest news articles, press releases and factsheets relating to the #FeedingFatCats campaign:

The #FeedingFatCats campaign is run by Thompsons Solicitors.