What will be the effect of the Jackson Reforms?

What will be the effect of the Jackson ReformsThere was an unexpected twist to the most recent argument surrounding the Jackson Reforms last month as the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced that changes to the law regarding personal injury cases will not, for the time being, affect sufferers of mesothelioma.

The announcement, made on 24th April, came following two previous votes by the House of Lords to keep mesothelioma claims in line with all other forms of personal injury claims. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos and can take twenty years to develop from when the exposure occurred.

There has been a great deal in the headlines about the forthcoming changes to personal injury claims, but what exactly are the changes and how will they affect the professionals involved with these sorts of claims, such as lawyers and forensic accountants?

In addition to the headline-grabbing scrapping of conditional fee agreements, (otherwise known as ‘no win no fee’) the Jackson reforms will bring about many other changes in the field of personal injury claims. One of the most significant of these changes is the ban on referral fees for this type of case. This will make it more difficult for third parties, such as so-called claims management companies, who currently make their living by the selling of personal injury enquiries to law firms.

The other major change that the Jackson Reforms, due to be brought into force in April 2013, will bring is the proposed extension of the electronic portal, currently used for low-value road traffic accident claims. Should the portal be extended to cover higher value claims and indeed other forms of personal injury claims, the fees that could be claimed by lawyers could become more standardised. While the exact level of these fees is still under debate, there have been figures of around the £800 mark for a standard road traffic accident claim under the value of £10,000.

When it comes to claiming compensation for complex injuries and accidents, the process will on the surface stay the same for the injury sufferer. Lawyers will take instructions from their clients, a claim will be pursued against the liable party and with the help of forensic accounting firms, the amount to be claimed can be calculated.

So while the headlines suggest desperate times ahead for the professionals involved, the Jackson reforms should hopefully, for the everyday client and forensic accountants, remain relatively unchanged.

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Law Gazette

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