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A last-minute amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will close down loopholes which have allowed some dishonest claimants to secure compensation pay-outs by exaggerating their injuries.
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is making its way through the House of Lords, deals mainly with criminal law, yet some sections will have a direct impact on personal injury claims.
The amendment follows recent calls to clamp down on whiplash claims, and would see claims dismissed where there is a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
There are two key points to note.
First, little will change for genuine claimants. Those who have suffered a personal injury and pursue the compensation they deserve could benefit from better access to justice, as the amendment should play a part in stopping spurious claims from clogging the courts.
The second and crucial point is that our industry must not accept any form of dishonesty. At National Accident Helpline we have strict measures in place to ensure that all incoming queries are respectfully yet thoroughly vetted and dishonest or fraudulent claims are rejected. Such safeguards should be an industry-wide requirement.
However, despite the best efforts of ethical firms to weed out spurious claims, there will always be a small number of people who try to abuse the system by failing to tell the whole truth to their legal representative. These individuals could slip through the cracks – all the way to the court. And this is a real problem, which is why NAH strongly supports this legislative measure which will put an end to the bizarre situation where a person can lie to the Court and recover compensation.
Just as there needs to be a clear ban on incentive marketing, workable deterrents are needed to stop people from exaggerating their injuries and, even worse, from claiming with no injury.
Fraudulent claims not only clog the courts, they can also lead to the victimisation of genuine claimants who have suffered. Real personal injury victims have the right to expert representation, and access to a properly functioning Court system not clogged up by unrepresented litigants and fraudulent claimants.
How the courts will interpret dishonesty remains to be seen, but the case for the amendment is clear: the legal system and people involved in it must work together to stamp out fraud and dishonesty.
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