The Conservative Government’s continued attack on the rights of working people continues.
In the Autumn Statement, George Osborne announced plans to increase the small claims limit in personal injury claims.
The small claims limit is currently £1,000 for personal injury claims but is set to rise next year to £5,000 - although there is no set date as to when this increase will take effect.
Such a dramatic increase is completely unjustified and will have serious implications for Unite members who suffer injury at or outside of work.
An increase in the small claims limit would give rise to significant health and safety concerns. By removing the ability to recover legal costs for cases under £5,000, the government is limiting access to justice, which will inevitably lead to more dangerous working conditions.
Howard Beckett, director of legal services at Unite, stated: “There are numerous examples of personal injury claims where the damages award would be less than £5,000, but the issues involved and the complexities of the law mean that a solicitor’s involvement is essential to ensure access to justice.
“Manual handling accidents, repetitive strain injuries, noise-induced hearing loss and vibration white finger claims could all fall within the proposed £5,000 small claims limit. It is crucial that injured workers are able to pursue compensation claims without restrictions on costs recovery. Compensation claims led to the health and safety improvements that were brought about to prevent exposure to asbestos.
“Unite Legal Services is currently supporting a number of members who are pursuing claims for exposure to toxic cabin air. Without this litigation, there will be no improvements made to cabin air quality. Unite will continue to support members who suffer accidents in or out of the workplace, and will be putting measures in place to tackle the proposed rise in the small claims limit.”