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Mark Savill writes about the Ministry of Justice’s whiplash consultation.

The MOJ will be issuing their response to the injury consultation today, which will confirm that:

  • The small claims track will not increase;
  • Independent medical panels will be introduced for the production of medical reports.

There had been clear pressure within government to increase the limit, with the impact assessment published as part of the consultation confirming that it was the government preference to increase it.  However, the evidence given to the Transport Select Committee raised concerns that this would provide an opportunity for claims management companies to increase their activity in injury claims using DBAs.  Having reduced the number of claims management companies from 2,553 to 1,485 as a result of the recent reforms, they didn’t want to reverse the tide here.

The emphasis on this issue is that the current reforms need time to settle down, having already created a reduction in insurance premiums, but it will be kept under review.

At this stage, there is little detail on the form of the independent medical panel, with emphasis in the press release on accreditation and quality checks. The options reviewed in the impact assessment were an accreditation scheme or a national call-off contract.  The assumption must be that the MOJ is therefore looking at the former, which will set up an accreditation scheme and only allow reports from accredited organisations or doctors. This suggests that the medico-legal agencies will be able to continue in their current form.  There is no mention of a review of medico-legal fees, or their inclusion in the injury protocol, so unless this appears as part of the detail on setting up the panel, the issues around fee levels will still remain.

The emphasis of the press release is on reducing costs for motorists.  In addition to the above – aimed at reducing insurance premiums – the MOJ discuss freezing MOT fees and reducing driving-test fees (clearly focusing on the costs of compliance on the road) and reducing motorway fuel prices.

The SCT decision is notable by its absence and was confirmed separately.  The consultation response should be available later today.