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"Cynical mischief-making" was the less-than-impressed view of a leading personal injury (PI) lawyer on a recent report which concluded that compensation culture was costing the UK 1 per cent of its gross domestic product
The research by the actuarial profession reckoned that the cost of compensation was "roughly £10bn" and has been increasing at "15 per cent per year recently" and was extensively covered in the national press towards the end of last year.
However, according to David Marshall, the vice-president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), the research was not as rigorous as it could have been. As far as the £10bn cost figure that the actuaries arrived at, Marshall claimed that "in isolation" it was "meaningless", as there was nothing to compare it against. "Exception might be taken to some of the actuaries' figures, particularly the inclusion of the exceptional cost of the BSE crisis," he argued.
Marshall also pointed out that 70 per cent of the costs identified by the actuaries relate to injuries caused in road traffic accidents, and that £1.5bn out of the £7bn cost of motor claims was the insurance industry's own administration costs - a figure that exceeded the £1.4bn identified as claimants' and defence lawyers' costs.
The report bemoaned the loss of the UK "stiff upper lip" and argued that the "rich tapestry of life" would be "dumbed down and reduced to bland humourless interactions, which is not what we won a war for".
Marshall responded: "As well-heeled professionals, maybe actuaries do prefer the 'rich tapestry of life' to full compensation for injuries caused by someone else's fault. Others in society cannot afford that luxury."