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Fraud must be defined before small claims limit is raised

23rd Nov 2016

The government should define ‘fraud’ before making any increase to the small claims limit, the shadow justice minister and personal injury lawyers have said.

Speaking at the Motor Association Solicitors Society’s (MASS) conference, Christina Rees MP stated that insurers must “define what fraud is” and indicate the scale of the problem before using it as a “battering ram”.

Rees’ intervention comes ahead of the Ministry of Justice’s expected consultation on reforms to personal injury claims, which could see the limit of small claims raised to £5,000 as it looks to yield on former chancellor George Osbornes’s curbing of a supposed whiplash culture.

The new MASS chairman, Simon Stanfield, a partner at Simpson Millar, noted that “fraud has blighted the sector for too long and must be tackled with all our energies. Action to target fraud must not, however, affect how an accident victim is treated. It must not affect their basic right to seek recompense for injuries sustained through no fault of their own.”

“To effectively outlaw the majority of claims, however legitimate, is nothing short of judicial vandalism that rides roughshod over hundreds of years of legal tradition,” he continued.

In a later panel discussion at the MASS conference, Matt Currie, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, said that while his firm saw ‘”little fraud” it still needs to be defined and the bigger problem may lie in claimants exaggerating their injuries.

When asked whether CMCs were driving fraud, Currie said that both regulated and unregulated CMCs were responsible and called for more information on their activities and tighter regulation.