The last Government worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders to develop an effective whiplash reform programme. New rules were implemented on 6 April 2015 to make sure that medical reports used in whiplash claims are obtained through the new MedCo IT portal. The new system also makes sure that solicitors are not able to obtain a report from an organisation with which they have a direct financial link.
These measures supplement reforms implemented on 1 October 2014 to fix the costs of initial medical reports at £180; to provide an expectation that there will usually only be one report; to prohibit the reporting expert from providing medical treatment to the claimant; to discourage insurers from using pre medical offers to settle; and to allow defendants to submit their version of events to the expert if necessary.
Further reforms to tackle fraudulent claims at source came into effect on 1 June 2015, when it became mandatory for claimant-solicitors to carry out a previous claims check on potential clients. In addition a robust new accreditation scheme for medical experts will be introduced on 1 January 2016 to help improve the quality of medical reports overall.
The Government’s whiplash reform programme only covers England and Wales as these issues are a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Ministry of Justice officials did, however, talk to colleagues from the devolved administrations during the development of the reform programme.