Insurance Times reports mixed views this week on the Ministry of Justice’s much delayed and watered down proposals for reforming how personal injury claims are handled in the UK.

With a new deadline of April 2010 just announced (to allow insurers and PI lawyers longer to prepare for their implementation), an unnamed source told Insurance Times that he/she/it feared the proposals were being “kicked into the political long grass.”

An MOJ statement this week announced that: “Ministers are committed to delivering the new process as soon as possible but, in view of the need to ensure that this can be effectively and smoothly rolled out, have agreed that implementation should be deferred until April 2010.”

Insurance Times anticipates despair among insurers at the delayed implementation timetable and cites “sources close to the reforms” who claim that, with a general election due to take place before May next year, the delay could prove fatal for the reforms.

“The government said in 2007,” Insurance Times recalls, “that the claims process for personal injury would be overhauled and streamlined following widespread criticism of the system as legal costs were too high.”

Since then, however, “Heavy lobbying from vested interests, including trade unions, has seen the proposed reforms substantially watered down since then. The current proposals focus solely on motor claims of up to £10,000.”

“A source close to the negotiations” told Insurance Times: “This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, everybody wants clarity on the process after months of uncertainty, but on the other hand everybody needs time to position their businesses to be ready for the reforms.”

The ABI’s Nick Starling said: “We have long been saying that the personal injury reforms have taken too long not to go far enough.”

This is certainly the type of statement one could utter many times over without ever making oneself fully and unambiguously clear. Should the reforms perhaps have not gone far enough more quickly?

“The reforms of the system,” Starling continues, “need to be sooner rather than later. We also believe that they should not be just on motor, but on employers’ liability too.”

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