Articles From the Team
How will the 2020 Personal Injury reforms influence my employment prospects?
Undoubtedly, the reforms will change the personal injury sector quite dramatically - some believe they’ll have a catastrophic effect. The government has delayed their implementation due to the infamous Brexit debate, but as it stands, they’re due to come into force in April 2020.
The Ministry of Justice says the changes presented through the Civil Liability Bill will ‘fundamentally transform’ how low-value personal injury claims are managed. However, there’s a grave concern throughout the legal profession that the reforms will prevent access to justice for many.
The reforms will completely restructure how claims are dealt with and will consist of a fixed fee tariff system, along with much lower compensation payments for RTA claims, in conjunction with a new £5,000 small claims limit. It’s expected to increase litigants in person as opposed to a solicitor handling a claim on behalf of an individual. Therefore, the government’s creating an online system that enables litigants in person to handle their own claims without legal representation.
The idea is that the online claims system will be more consumer-friendly and do away with the need for legal advice or representation. MPs have argued that the small claims limit should only rise to £1,500 due to the potential complexity of these types of claims and the important role of litigation.
However, the government isn’t bringing these implementations to the House of Commons for MP debate because they’re using a statutory instrument; a legislative technique, which allows the government to change existing regulations without the need to have a full debate in the Commons.
The goal of the reforms is to reduce compensation and costs payments for insurance companies, which in turn are likely to reduce car insurance premiums, but many question the reality of this and whether genuine claimants will have real access to justice.
So, how does all this influence my employment prospects within the personal injury sector?
Firstly, employer liability and public liability claims do not fit within the scope of the new online platform - it’s the RTA sector that’s set to be largely affected.
Inevitably, personal injury firms will have to restructure how they manage RTA claims and many firms I’ve spoken to on this have had contingency plans in place for quite some time, so they’re fully prepared for the changes.
As we all know, preparation is key! Therefore, the firms that have contingency plans in place and are ready for the restructuring will be the ones who fight on through.
From speaking to many candidates, I know this is a huge concern and it’s leaving them uncertain about making any moves within RTA.
One thing I recommend is don’t stay in a role where you’re unhappy just because you feel more secure. Attend interviews with other firms to explore your options and show your commercial awareness by asking them what their contingency plan is in light of the future reforms. Due to business confidentiality, they’re unlikely to reveal the full details, but at the very least they can give you an idea and some reassurance; that they have solid plans in place to safeguard the firm and its employees.
What you have to consider is whether your current firm is doing the same and if so, are they doing it to the same extent?
This is by no means 'Operation Fear!' This is information I’ve gathered from speaking to different law firms. Don’t let the reforms hold you back and have you stay in a role where you’re unhappy just because you ‘think’ you’re safe, because the reality is, you may not be.
Obviously, no one can say for sure how everything will work out, but the majority of law firms who had strong contingency plans in place back when the Jackson reforms came into effect on April 2013, have stood the test of time.
Do your research, ask the questions and make an informed decision as moving might be the more secure option for you.
I’m working on behalf of some fantastic firms with great opportunities, so if you’d like to hear more about them, confidentially of course, please get in touch.