It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell if media coverage of the debate between claimant and defendant sides in personal injury is having any influence on government policy. However in January, it appeared that good old fashioned case law may have trumped Whitehall’s timetable for civil justice reform anyway.
Despite the myriad consultations and decrees from the Ministry of Justice, one case may have had the power to accelerate Lord Justice Jackson’s civil justice reforms quicker than anyone could have imagined.
January was awash with comment and debate on the implications of the judgement in MGN v United Kingdom (Case No. 39401/04). Legal Week produced an excellent roundup of the media coverage on the issue, which has certainly got tongues wagging over the future of success fees and CFAs.
The matter of access to justice is rarely away from the headlines these days and the issue does find itself the subject of news copy in some odd places. For example, the Mirror seems to be posing its journalists as Raymond Chandler-esque private detectives; it appears they’re keen to lay it on thick with whatever material they can.
January’s news was also replete with discussion about how motor insurers can justify rising premiums amidst a climate in which every other cost for motorists is heading north too. It’s not difficult to understand the reason this was such a hot topic; Parliament’s Transport Select Committee has been hearing presentations from interested parties on the issue so it’s been straight-talking time.
To offer a little context, rates across personal and commercial motor have generally been on the rise for more than a year and understandably many insurers are keen to present ways in which they might conceivably keep premiums down. For example, insurer Swiftcover added its name to proposals by the Association of British Insurers for broader access to the DVLA database, regarded as one of the most effective means of cutting out fraud at point of sale. Another company, Esure, pointed out some salient concerns it has about rather worrying claims inflation statistics that are specific to one postcode synonymous with the motoring world
And finally, returning to the world of social networking, some smart people at personal injury referral network Loyalty Law have launched what on the surface appears to be the country’s first ever Twitter law firm. Obviously there’s a little more behind it but in essence, users can ask simple ‘what if?’ questions which are answered by a panel of law firms.
It would be my hunch that Quora would be a better network for this type of approach, but we’ll have to wait and see if it gains enough traction with everyday users first.
This article was written by freelance business journalist and PR consultant Ralph Savage.