16.2.07

Day 96 (week 20): It`s all about costs

It’s all about costs, I’ve realised. Everything. The whole legal world. Not justice. Not rights. Not defending the innocent or prosecuting the guilty. It’s cold, hard, calculated costs. Hours and minutes translated into money. Cash for the accident management companies, cash for the solicitors, cash for the barristers, cash for the experts and occasionally even cash for the clients. Be in no doubt, it is cash which drives this whole machine. The latest example of this came from a talk I was forced to go to this evening on whether the small claims limit for personal injury cases should be raised from £1,000 to £5,000.

The thing you need to know immediately is that you only get a tiny amount of costs in the Small Claims Court. So, a personal injury case worth £800 might only bring on a few hundred pounds worth of costs. Yet ones worth £1,500 believe it or not regularly bring in bills of over £6,000. So, if the government increases the limit for the Small Claims Court, solicitors get less costs. Plain and simple. Yet we all had to listen to some great legal brains piping up all the reasons under the sun other than that they would earn less money as to why the limit should not increase. Some may have been in earnest. However, to an outsider most appeared at best disingenuous.

The law at its very worst, exposing its filthy tarnished soul for all to see.

8 comments:

John Flood said...

Thank you for your comment to which I have tried to respond below your post on my blog. I've enjoyed reading your blog and will put a link to it from mine. Good luck with the pupillage. I think you've got the nous to succeed.

John Flood said...

Whoops you've already done the pupillage, I see. Still a good blog.

Anonymous said...

Er, "fewer costs", not "less costs". What happened to good grammar?

BabyBarista said...

You sound exactly like my pupilmaster. In fact, I am slightly concerned you might be.

John Usher said...

It's all about insurers saving millions and access to justice. Look at it from the trade unions’ perspective to see how it works. Remember virtually all PI claims have an insurance backed defendant. Insurers will always have legal representation at trial. Before that their vested interests dictate they will deny liability when they shouldn't and offer low sums to avoid paying proper compensation. There was talk of raising the limit to £2,500. That's a lot of money to someone on a low income - about 3 months wage to the 1.3 million on minimum wage. Unions represent 6.5 million members and their families people, who make 150,000 claims a year. We've been doing it for decades - propping up legal aid when it was available. Half our cases conclude for less than £2,500. We can support all those cases, including those few under £1,000 and lost cases now. If the limit goes up, we can't afford to carry on and 75,000 people a year people are left to be under settled or receive nothing at all. (Others who do not have the benefit of union backing will be similarly affected.)

Not funny, I know. Indeed it seems that you were not told about how serious it is. I'd be interested if you could tell me who managed to convince you that this is just a costs issue.

BabyBarista said...

Thank you John for your genuinely interesting comment.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Blog. You're spot on with regard to the "cash machine" point. There is absolutely no justification for maintaining the existing small claims limit.

Anonymous said...

When is the DCA going to see sense and raise the £1000 limit?