COMMONS

Committee concerns on increasing Small Claims limit

17 May 2018

The Justice Committee have examined the Small Claims limit for personal injury. They have found that increasing the small claims limit for personal injury (PI) creates significant access to justice concerns.

Impact of increasing small claims limit from £1,000 to £2,000

The Committee examined the impact of raising the Personal Injury (PI) small claims limit (using secondary legislation) from £1,000 to £2,000 and to £5,000 for Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) related PI claims, part of a package of Government reforms.

Other measures are contained in the Civil Liability Bill which is currently before Parliament.

The Committee's report sets out its concerns about increasing the small claims limit for PI: while the Ministry of Justice is making efforts to develop an electronic platform supplemented by guidance and support for unrepresented claimants, this ambitious project risks falling short of creating a claims process that guarantees “unimpeded access to the courts” – a principle confirmed by the Supreme Court in a recent case.

Concerns about financial and procedural barriers

Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:

“Access to justice, including the right of access to the courts, is a cornerstone of the rule of law but these reforms risk putting that right in doubt.

We share strong concerns that were raised during our inquiry on this issue, including concerns about the financial and procedural barriers that claimants might face.

The Ministry of Justice has made some welcome moves to develop the electronic platform to compensate for claimants' anticipated lack of legal representation.

However, we remain to be convinced that this will be effective or sufficient.

This is a vitally important point of principle on which the Government should reflect.

The small claims limit for personal injury should not be increased unless Ministers can explain how it will make sure that access to justice is not affected."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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