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Proposal for client history tests

14th Sep 2014

Proposals have been put forward by the government that would force claimant lawyers to do a background check on any potential clients by looking at their claims history.

In an attempt to reduce whiplash compensation fraud, the move would mean whiplash claims would not be dealt with until a background search had been done. The system would be mandatory, the Ministry of Justice adds.

The proposal forms part of a consultation by the MoJ on whiplash, and is hoped that this could be a solution to a long-running problem.

Under the new scheme, personal injury lawyers would have access to a new ‘IT interface’, where a general database on the number of claims made by clients within the last five years would exist. It is understood that the insurance industry would provide the basic client data.

The consultation has also come up with a proposal for a new ‘IT hub’, which could allocate medical experts to claims.

With the working title ‘MedCo’, filters would ensure that the medical expert drawing up any reports for a claim had no connection with the commissioning body. While this would not prevent law firms from owning medical reporting organisations, for example, it would mean that they would have to find such work elsewhere.

As the government does not have the funding for MedCo, the Association of British Insurers has made an agreement to create and fund the IT network, and then the scheme would be self-funded through accreditation fees – an accreditation scheme would be mandatory.

Both plans for dealing with claimant law firms and potentially fraudulent future customers are intended to help the regular driver.

As Justice Minister Lord Faulks states, ‘honest drivers should not continue to bear the cost of a system that has been open to abuse’, which is why the government feels this is the right time for a change. The improved system would drive out those trying to commit fraud, while better settling genuine whiplash claims.

Experts warn that these honest drivers must see the results for the scheme to work though, through reduced premiums for drivers.