What are the ‘Whiplash Reforms’?

Thomas Sedley, solicitor in the Dispute Resolution department of our Bury office sets out below the details of the long awaited Whiplash reforms, and what this means for those involved in Road Traffic Accidents. 

The Civil Liability Act 2018 will come in to force on 31st May 2021 and Part 1 of this Act contains the Whiplash Injury Regulations (Whiplash Reforms) that will implement changes to the way ‘small’ personal injury claims are dealt with. 

Under the reforms, the ‘small claims’ limit for personal injuries arising from a Road Traffic Accident have been increased from £1,000 to £5,000, with a few exceptions.

This means that any claim with a value less than £5,000 (the vast majority of claims) will be classed as a ‘small claim’ and Claimants will no longer be able to recover the cost of seeking legal advice.   

In addition, the regulations also introduce a fixed compensation tariff for whiplash injuries, which are significantly less than under the current system. 

Details of the injuries and their respective values are set out below.  

Duration of injury For whiplash without (minor) psychological injury For whiplash with (minor) psychological injury
Not more than 3 months £240 £260
More than 3 months, but not more than 6 months £495 £520
More than 6 months, but not more than 9 months £840 £895
More than 9 months, but not more than 12 months £1,320 £1,390
More than 12 months, but not more than 15 months £2,040 £2,125
More than 15 months, but not more than 18 months £3,005 £3,100
More than 18 months, but not more than 24 months £4,215 £4,345

What does this mean for those involved in a RTA?

Those who have been injured in a RTA through no fault of their own will now have the unenviable task of having to navigate the claims process themselves without legal representation using the new Official Injury Claim Portal, or pay privately for a solicitor out of the damages that are meant to compensate them for their injuries. 

You are still entitled to instruct your own legal representation, but it is important to note that under the new regulations, if your claim is valued at less than £5,000 you will need to pay your own legal fees, whether your claim is successful or not, which could leave you out of pocket, even if your claim is successful. Given that the levels of compensation are being significantly reduced, most claims will fall under this category. 

In addition, if the third party insurers dispute liability you may have to represent yourself in court. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Insurers will simply deny liability for genuine claims in the hope that Claimants will not want to pursue claims through the Court process unrepresented or at their own expense.  

Why are these changes being introduced?

The justification for these radical changes from the insurance industry is that they claim it will save motorists on average around £35 per year on their insurance premiums. However, this estimate has already been significantly reduced from when the reforms were first proposed and there appears to be little way of actually ensuring that the costs savings are passed on to customers. 

It remains questionable as to whether such an insignificant saving is worth giving up the right for the majority of injured claimants to recover the cost of their legal fees. The risk therefore is that many claimants will be discouraged from bringing legitimate claims due to the daunting nature of representing yourself in what can be complex proceedings. 

Butcher & Barlow LLP

If you have any further questions about this matter, or wish to seek advice on how the reforms might affect you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our legal experts on 0161 764 4062. Alternatively, you can contact Thomas Sedley directly for all types of civil disputes and litigation – he can be reached at tsedley@butcher-barlow.co.uk.

an image of Tom Sedley, a Butcher & Barlow LLP employee

Tom Sedley