What does it mean for me?
Solicitors are prohibited from recovering their legal costs from the responsible party in Small Claims. Therefore if an injury is minor, a Claimant wishing to pursue a claim for that injury would have to represent themselves. When the limit was £1,000.00 that was not a problem for most Claimants as the majority of injuries that last for more than a few weeks are likely to be worth more than £1,000.00. In road traffic accident claims, increasing the limit to £5,000.00 has had a huge impact on whether or not injured parties are able to get real access to justice and to bring claims with the assistance of a legal professional. Alongside the increase, the Ministry of Justice introduced the Official Injury Claim portal (the OIC), which is supposedly easier for people to use to represent themselves in Court. As this is a new system that has had less than a year to ‘bed-in’, it is not really possible to know whether it is going to be a success or whether it will need to be changed, but if you don’t want to pay a solicitor out of your own pocket to deal with your claim, you are going to have to use the OIC portal yourself and hope for the best.
For all other claims, including accidents at work or in public places, defective products or accidents in private spaces, the limit is going to increase to £1,500.00 from April 2022. If your injury is serious and lasts more than a month or two, things like complicated fractures, back injuries or head injuries resulting in concussion and some longer term symptoms, then you have nothing to worry about and you will still more than likely be able to get a solicitor to deal with your claim on a no-win no-fee basis, giving you proper access to justice. In many cases, however, something that seems like a serious injury may turn out to be quite minor or not worth an awful lot of money. Things like lacerations that are quite nasty at the time but heal quickly without scarring, food poisoning and sprained ankles that can be quite painful but heal quickly without physiotherapy are all things that could be worth less than £1,500.00.