The Tories have long-trumpeted their plans to tackle whiplash fraud and the Civil Liability Bill is said to be the vehicle to do that. But changes associated with, but not on the face of, the Bill will take away basic rights of access to justice for hundreds of thousands of injured workers every year.
The House can pass the final stages of the Civil Liability Bill on Tuesday and seek to deal with whiplash, but it needs to say no to a statutory instrument that will raise the small claims limit to £2,000 for all injuries and £5,000 for road traffic accidents – sweeping changes that will impact on how 350,000 people every year access the legal system after injury.
Ministers can have their Bill but there is no need to undermine access to justice for workers and vulnerable groups like children by raising the small claims limit as proposed. No one is calling for this rise apart from the overzealous insurance industry.
Ministers have rightly conceded that vulnerable road users should be exempt from both the Bill and any small claims increase. But does David Gauke really believe that horse riders are more important than injured nurses, police officers, and teachers? That cyclists are more deserving of access to justice than the millions who work in places where accidents are still far too common?
What is there to be gained by forcing through legalisation that has an unnecessary sting in its tail that looks partisan and vindictive? Given their precarious position in the Commons, and the amount it has on its plate, does the government really think that taking away rights from people injured through no fault of their own whose injury has nothing to do with whiplash will rally the troops?
On Tuesday the government can have its cake and eat it too: clamp down on whiplash fraud and stay true to the PM’s promise to stand up for the just-about-managing in society. It’s a no-brainer.
This post is sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.