Claimants and consumer groups have started the process of challenging new government legislation set to introduce lower personal injury fixed costs. Critics opposed to the new system claim that smaller claims will be disadvantaged although there are those that believe larger claims will become quicker and easier to manage. Two groups, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), have launched a judicial review of the changes to challenge the government’s decision.

The changes, which have been mooted following consultation between the government and insurers last year, will see changes in the way in which personal injury claims are settled. The changes are set to come into force in April 2013 but APIL and MASS and the government believes that by increasing the amount claimants are able to claim will help cover increased costs.

The biggest change means that if you win the case then you may have to pay your own legal fees from the money that you are awarded. Currently, the losing party pays legal costs, which can add up to hundreds or thousands of pounds. Solicitors and claimants groups are worried that, for smaller claims, this would make the process unviable and, as claimants do not know how much their claim is worth, it will put many people off.

The two groups released a joint statement, in which they said that “by consulting only with insurers, the government’s proposal to make these cuts is both unfair and based on a misinterpretation of the facts.” The groups said that they are launching the review and challenging the proposals because they are worried that, under the new system, claiming will become more difficult and less cost effective.

Part of the problem in reducing costs in this way is that people have little or no idea of what their claim is worth and this means that they will be less inclined to pursue a claim for fear of it costing too much to make it a worthwhile venture.

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