Moves to clampdown on bogus holiday sickness claims should not be allowed to undermine genuine cases, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today.
Responding to a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation, the Law Society said it backed the government in seeking to clamp down on fraudulent claims.
Law Society president Joe Egan said: “Fraudulent claims should be stamped on and claims companies which seek to profit from bogus or exaggerated claims must be brought to task.
“We would like to see a ban on cold calling put in place for all personal injury cases to protect consumers, and we condemn unauthorised and unethical claims management activity in this area. That said, in clamping down on dodgy business practices, ministers should be careful not to penalise people with honest or more complex claims. It is important that those with genuine cases should receive fair and just compensation.”
The government’s call for evidence follows a hike in the number of low value personal injury claims for gastric illness after people have been on package holidays. A lot of the claims appear to be without merit.
Tour operators that sell holidays abroad are not currently covered by a system of fixed recoverable costs that operates for small personal injury claims in England and Wales. This means legal costs are not capped on claims for foreign holidays.
The MoJ wants to close this loophole, limiting the legal costs travel firms have to pay for holiday sickness claims by including them in the fixed costs regime.
Joe Egan said: “We endorse the principle of fixed recoverable costs (FRCs) for simple, low value and straightforward holiday sickness claims if the costs and accompanying legal process is workable. Fixed recoverable costs provide some certainty for both sides in litigation and avoid protracted disputes about the level of costs.
“However, fixed costs should not apply in certain circumstances - for example in complex, high value claims where people have been seriously harmed, or where large numbers of people are affected by the same incident. A ‘one size fits all’ approach would prevent serious cases being properly compensated.”
Notes to editors
Read the Law Society's response to the MoJ's call for evidence