PI pilot rebuke

In his address to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers' Spring Conference, the Lord Chancellor praised the important work, central to the civil justice reforms, being done in partnership by those with traditionally opposing interests. What a shame that you have sought to undermine that work. Your piece on the PI pilot (The Lawyer, 12 May) bore little relationship to the facts. To redress the balance we would like to point out the following:

The pilot is being managed by a group of lawyers and insurance company representatives. It will be evaluated at its conclusion in August by Lord Chancellor's Department officials. The results of the evaluation will then be passed to the working group for them to take decisions on any necessary refinements to the protocol.

The nine firms of solicitors and six insurers taking part in the pilot remain supportive of the objectives of the protocol and committed to a successful outcome of the pilot.

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee is currently considering draft rules which include those setting out the sanctions for non-compliance with pre-action protocols. Protocols will establish standards of reasonable pre-action conduct. Non-compliance with protocols may represent evidence of unreasonable conduct which judges will take into account when exercising their discretion as to costs.

The article referred to problems caused by some employees of participating insurers not being aware of the protocol. It is true that there have been some teething problems of this nature but this was only to be expected and does not mean that the pilot is doomed to fail.

The solicitors and insurers taking part in the pilot knew that there were likely to be initial difficulties in dealing with pilot cases, especially for the larger insurers with several offices handling claims.

The insurers participating in the pilot are as committed to striving for a positive outcome as their solicitor colleagues.

Geoff Hoon & Phillip Sycamore