Major issues with the ‘portal’ fees which may affect people’s access to Justice in personal injury claims.
The Government has got plans to drastically reduce the fees for Road Traffic Accident, also known as RTA’s.
The Ministry of Justice wants to cut fixed recoverable costs for claims up to £10,000 through the RTA Portal from £1,200 to £500. For claims valued up to £25,000, fixed costs will be set at £800. This is a massive drop in fees and it is likely that they will come into force in April 2013. It is the belief of the government that solicitors will be able to offset the smaller income by not having to pay referral fees. These will be banned from April 2013. It seems that the government are giving with one hand and taking with the other.
But the Law Society has stated publicly that they are not happy with the proposed cuts and intend to raise their concerns immediately.
If the proposed cuts come into place in April 2013 it is highly likely that solicitors will stop undertaking this area of work as it will not be cost effective for them. This has a knock on affect to accident victims who will not be able to access justice.
The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) have stated that there are around 2,000 solicitors from 200 firms are employed in the RTA sector and that they handle approximately 500,000 cases every year. At the present the existing costs are agreed between the Claimant and the insurers based on the amount of work that is required to undertake the case.
The insurance industry has welcomed the new proposals. They have recently lobbied the government for reduced costs. They hope that this will lower the premiums. It is believed that this is what drivers want. Although this may be the case it is likely that those who genuinely suffer following an accident will suffer and not get access to justice.
The Ministry of Justice will accept responses to the consultation until 4 January.
If you have had an accident and require legal representation please contact our Winsford office.