Personal injury lawyers face Govt guidelines on charges

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has established a costs committee to advise it on what rates personal injury (PI) lawyers can charge.

The shift towards a centralised set of rating guidelines comes as the MoJ prepares to overhaul the PI sector in an effort to streamline costs. Traditionally the local judiciary has set rating scales in consultation with local law firms.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) hit out at the MoJ for failing to include a representative from the claimant lobby on the five-strong panel. In a statement Apil said: “It’s unfortunate there is no representative dedicated solely to the interests of the claimant, particularly at a time when costs for personal injury are under close scrutiny and discussion.”

Economist Professor Stephen Nickell will chair the committee, which includes Russell Jones & Walker senior litigator Fraser Whitehead, national consumer council senior policy advocate Steve Brooker and Norwich Union technical claims director Dominic Clayden.

A further academic is expected to be appointed.

The Forum of Insurance Lawyers president Henry Bermingham said: “It’s about centralising quite a widespread and inconsistent system. Because it’s a smaller group it could be seen as being dangerous. But it’s really too early to judge. What this group needs to do is carry stakeholders, and that includes Apil.”