Labour's position on fast track cheers Apil

Personal injury lawyers have welcomed firm signals from the Labour Party that it will exclude personal injury litigation from Lord Woolf's proposed fast-track system.

Addressing the Society of Labour lawyers in Leicester last week, Labour's legal affairs spokesman Paul Boateng said he had serious doubts that personal injury cases and the fixed costs proposed under the fast track were compatible.

His comments follow the publication of university research commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) last month, which found that Lord Woolf's proposed £2,500 maximum on costs for the fast track was likely to be far too low for personal injury lawyers.

At the meeting, Boateng criticised the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Woolf team for failing to undertake sufficient research on the cost of personal injury litigation, while praising Apil for commissioning the research.

Patrick Cheadle, Apil's Leicestershire representative and organiser of the event, said this was a clear indication of Labour's support for Apil's call to remove personal injury from Woolf's proposed fast track.

“We are very encouraged to hear that the Labour Party, unlike the present government, is taking on board practitioners' worries about the implementation of the Woolf report.”

Boateng has already announced Labour's intention to “immediately, on coming into office, ensure that there is a proper costing of proposals”.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Law Society annual conference earlier this month, he said: “We are determined that the impact of changes in civil justice in the field of personal injury litigation should not be to weigh the balance still further in favour of the insurance industry. There is a concern on the part of personal injury lawyers in that regard that I share.”