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Firms preparing legal challenge to changes in whiplash claims system

15th Dec 2014

Some of the leading personal injury firms in the country are planning to launch a legal challenge to proposed reforms to the whiplash claims system by the government.

Chris Grayling, justice secretary, announced at the start of the month his plans to form a new group of independent medical experts, who would be allocated to claimants on a cab-rank rule.

By April 2015 this system will be applied to all expert reports, and by the beginning of 2016, experts will be registered and accredited. The not-for-profit company set up to administer the system, MedCo, will go live early next year.

It is understood that an alliance has been made between several leading personal injury firms seeking a judicial review of the plans. These firms include Express Solicitors, Jefferies Solicitors, Winn Solicitors, Savas and Savage Solicitors, Thorneycroft Solicitors, Quindell Legal Services and JMW Solicitors. There are also five medical reporting agencies involved.

They are claiming that the MedCo system will no longer allow people to prepare their own claim, which will breach their human rights.

Mark Jones is a partner at the Manchester-based firm JMW, and is also the lawyer acting for the group. He says that the firms are in agreement with the government wanting to firmly cut down on claims which are fraudulent, but the move to deny claimants a choice is irrational.

For claimants to not be able to ‘carefully select a properly qualified and accredited expert’, and instead have to choose from a limited list of names is not right, Jones continued.

The group of firms is also concerned that this could mark the start of a wave of similar changes across other types of personal injury claims.

The government has stated that the new scheme will be ‘a robust system’ for finding suitable experts, and that it removes conflict of interest. Lord Faulks, justice minister, believes that although the plan may challenge the sector, it also provides opportunities for new working practices to develop.