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ABI Statement I recently read a quote from Mr Dalton of the ABI, on the litigation futures website that stated ‘it is time we had an open and honest debate about whether a minor low speed shunt in a supermarket car park resulting in a sore neck for a couple of days justifies thousands of pounds in compensation. But it needs to be a grown up debate: with analysis rather than anecdotes and evidence rather than emotion. Whatever the outcome, insurers will provide the agreed level of compensation to Claimants and build that into car insurance premiums.’ Before turning to the points raised by Mr Dalton I would like to state the following: for too long our industries have been at loggerheads and rather than tear strips off each other I have better suggestion. Let’s put our cards on the table and be honest. I have a mixed practice of Claimant and Defendant work and sometimes (but not often) I see claims where the costs are extortionate for the matter they relate to. However Defendants, in my opinion, often undervalue claims due, largely, to an unwillingness to depart from what Collosus tells them and this causes unnecessary costs to be incurred. If the small claims limit is increased it will, most likely, cripple the PI industry and the area of law will stagnate as the best lawyers will be driven out. Further, in my opinion, an independent computer system generating the quantification of awards will undercompensate people with genuine claims as it will fail to take account of the specific facts of the case. At present the insurance industry is throwing money away. For example by sending Defendant Counsel to infant approvals where everything is agreed. Ignoring their Solicitor, and Counsel, when they are telling the insurance company’s case handler that the offer is insufficient and they will lose at trial. Therefore, rather than continue to mudsling why do we not try to act responsibly and work together? Lawyers are not actuaries and cannot advise you on the level of your premiums, or your business model, but we can point out to you where you are wasting money. Rather than go to war, over raising the small claims limit, why don’t we sit down with the insurers and explain to them where they are wasting money in litigation? Further a sensible step would be for the two industries to look at civil procedure rules and see where the steps can be simplified to save costs. Turning to Mr Dalton’s comments, and my intention is not to be critical but, the quantum relating to a sore neck for a couple of days would be a couple of hundred pounds, if that, not thousands of pounds. However his suggestion of public debates is a good idea. But, in these debates, I would suggest that we also look at the statistics relating to Defendant insurers’ success rates, in Courts, and the differences between their first offer and the amount actually awarded at trial. Further, let’s not ignore the law. Stating that the system is broken and insurers cannot afford to keep paying out to this supposed ‘compensation culture’ is not an answer to the question: why should we treat a claim for a few weeks differently from a claim for a year? As in both cases the Claimant has been injured through no fault of his own and our justice system is compensatory i.e. fundamental to the system is the idea wronged party, irrespective of the value of the claim, should be put back in the position he would have been but for the accident. Profit is, of course, important to any business but it is not a consideration that should outweigh the preservation of justice. 7