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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Tuesday 27 April 2021


Please don't have a traffic accident that causes a modest injury. But if you really must, try and have it before 31 May 2021 or you will be caught by new laws which affect how the court will deal with the claim, and if it is for a whiplash injury, cut down the level of compensation you receive, assuming the other driver was wholly or partly to blame. And please don't engineer a claim so as to make a fast buck or you can expect a slow prison sentence.

See https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/search/label/whiplash%20reforms%3B%20road%20traffic%20accident%20claims%3B%20personal%20injury%20claims

The claim in England and Wales for a traffic accident occurring on or after 31 May 2021 can be expected to be dealt with as a county court small claim. That's because all traffic claims where the personal injury element is worth no more than £5,000 will be classified as small claims. Currently they fall outside the small claims procedure if the personal injury is worth over £1,000.  In addition to dealing with the personal injury, the court will be able to award up to £5,000 for losses such as vehicle repairs and vehicle hire charges. 

The consequence of a case being covered by the small scheme is that the restricted costs regime will apply to it. Apart from certain expenses such as court fees and loss of earnings, the winner cannot  generally expect the loser to be ordered to pay their costs and, in particular, their lawyer's bill if they have been legally represented (except for a few peanuts not worth salting). That means that the number of law firms willing to take on these cases in future will be drastically reduced. Some will still do it but probably on the basis that the claimant pays them 25% of the compensation awarded for dealing with the case. Of course, it may still be possible for a lawyer to be hired by a claimant who has legal-fees insurance cover for traffic accident claim representation. The small claims route will not be foisted on a claimant who is under 18 or where at the time of the accident they were a cyclist, motor cyclist, pillion or sidecar passenger, using a mobility scooter, pedestrian - or riding a horse!

And now for the new whiplash compensation. This is for a soft injury job to the neck, back or shoulder. Here's an example of what the court will award. If the claimant's symptoms clear up within three months, the compensation will be £240, with an extra £20 thrown in if there are one or more minor psychological symptoms as well and a 20% enhancement in exceptional cases. This is as against the current range of compensation which is £1,290 to £2,300. What a difference! The low compensation limits will NOT apply to a whiplash which has lasted for more than two years or is likely to do so. 

Flight Delay Claims: Staff sickness defence rejected

Flight delay claims are still with us despite Brexit. It's the flights that have flown but what might lift your spirits is the prospect of reactivating a refused claim on account of a recent court decision. Have a look at https://www.breakinglaw.co.uk/search/label/flight%20delay%20claims to see how delay claims work and airlines can escape liability for having to pay compensation on the ground that the delay was caused by 'extraordinary circumstances'. 

The recent decision comes from the Court of Appeal in a case called Lipton v BA City Flyer Ltd. That involved a flight from Milan to London City. One hour before the flight was due to depart, and before he had come on duty, the captain reported in sick. There was no replacement captain available and so the flight was cancelled. Hence, the delay. The Court of Appeal ruled that this event did NOT amount to an 'extraordinary circumstance' and so the airline had to pay out to the passenger who pressed their claim for compensation.  

The decision is likely to put pay to future liability escape for airlines by arguing that the delay was down to staff absence and airlines can be expected to be on even weaker ground where the sickness occurs while the member of staff has already started their shift. All of which means that if you have not already been to court and lost but been turned down by the airline for compensation in a 'staff sickness' situation, have another go at them and mention that Court of Appeal decision. And don't mention me!