The Prime Minister has faced accusations of sidelining the legal profession in talks his talks over whiplash claims – part of the agenda for his insurance industry “summit” held at Number 10 on 14th February.
Mr Cameron, meeting included representatives from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and leading insurance firms, and focused on addressing the rising cost of car insurance.
He described a ‘damaging compensation culture’ as being responsible for inflating insurance premiums and that the average of 1,500 whiplash claims per day is a major contributor to that.
The Law Society wrote to the PM in January seeking engagement with the profession in this respect, but they were excluded form the summit which was only attended by insurers and government ministers.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘We wrote to the prime minister over a month ago, but it is disappointing that our offer to work with him and his government in addressing public concerns over whiplash claims has been ignored.
‘There are many options to address, from government, opposition, and others, which need proper consideration. Government should not be limiting itself to tea and cakes with one partisan set of stakeholders – the insurers.’
Downing Street claimed in a press release in advance of the meeting that whiplash is costing the insurance industry £2bn a year, which is the ABI’s own figure.
Following Mr Cameron’s meeting, he said the insurance industry had committed to ensure premiums reflect any reductions in legal costs generated as a result of the Jackson reforms of civil litigation.
The government vowed to reduce the current £1,200 fee that lawyers can earn from small value personal injury claims – with insurers again promising to pass savings onto customers.
On whiplash, there have been suggestions to raise the threshold for accidents through a minimum speed requirement and to require improved medical evidence of injuries following an accident, similar to systems employed in Germany. Although no specific details were released.