Personal Injury Reforms Explained

30 March 2017

By Head of Personal Injury, Vijay Mehan

On the 23 February 2017 the UK Government issued Part 1 of its response to a consultation paper on reforming the whiplash claims process.

The Government has confirmed that people seeking compensation for whiplash injuries will see the following measures introduced through new legislation on 1 October 2018:

  1. A table of fixed compensation for whiplash claims, with the amount of compensation depending on the duration of injuries (see table below)
  2. An ability for the Courts to decrease the amount of compensation awarded in the event of contributory negligence (meaning your actions have contributed towards your injuries, such as failing to wear a seatbelt) or to increase the amount by up to 20% in exceptional circumstances
  3. A ban on recovering legal costs when using a Lawyer to bring a road traffic claim for personal injury that is worth up to £5,000 for the pain and suffering element - previously this was £1,000
  4. An increase in the ability to recover legal costs in all other personal injury claims to £2,000; again this was previously £1,000
  5. A ban on offering and requesting the settlement of a claim without a proper medical report.

What will this mean for Personal Injury Claims?

The above measures will have two main consequences. Firstly, there will be a significant reduction in the amount of compensation that can be paid in whiplash claims. This is because the compensation awarded in whiplash and minor psychological claims will be calculated according to the duration of the Claimant’s injuries, as shown in the table below:

Injury duration (months)

2015 average payment for pain and suffering (Defendant industry wide data) (£)

New amounts (£)






















Secondly, there will be a ban on recovering legal costs when using a Lawyer in road traffic claims if your pain and suffering award is under £5,000 (or £2,000 in other personal injury claims).

As mentioned above, there will also be an outright ban on making and accepting an offer of settlement without first having obtained medical evidence that supports the personal injury claim.

However, the Government does recognise that because of the above changes, they will need to help people who want to bring a claim by themselves, as some won’t be able to afford the cost of using a Lawyer. What changes the Government might make to maintain easy access to justice is currently unknown.

Therefore the number of people bringing personal injury claims themselves is likely to increase, as it will no longer be possible to recover legal costs when using the services of a Lawyer. In turn, this may reduce the overall amount of personal injury claims being made, as the process might not be easy for the vast majority of the general public to understand.

Furthermore, access to independent legal advice regarding medical evidence may also be unavailable, leaving some injured people potentially undercompensated.

Part 2 of the Consultation

The remaining issues of the consultation will be dealt with in Part 2 which will be released in due course, most likely in April 2017. Amongst other things it will include the introduction of a ‘Barème’ type system. Under the Barème system, claims are divided into three main categories:

  1. Compensation for death
  2. Compensation for serious injuries
  3. Compensation for temporary injuries (including whiplash claims)

The system includes the classification, description and assessment of the individual’s injuries, including psychological and physical damages. The degree of disability is measured in points, with 100 representing the highest possible rating. A specific formula is then used to calculate the amount of compensation.

Barème systems are currently being used in other countries such as in France, Spain and Italy.

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