The pace of change – November 2014

Craig BudsworthThe pace of change
Immediate past MASS Chairman and Branch Manager, True Solicitors

When I spoke at the MASS Conference about where the future lies with medical experts and the risk of unintended consequences I highlighted the fact that the pace of change is coming too fast, even for our area of law. I say this because since the Woolf reforms in the 90s, RTA law has faced nothing but change. In some ways that’s why this area appeals to me so much, but at the moment this is a step too far. We talk about ‘understanding the impact of the reforms already introduced’ but my worry is that nobody’s listening. Take LASPO and then post issue fixed fees last July, the change to medicals this October and the full impact just isn’t known, worse the information quantifying the impact is with insurers as they are a smaller number of organisations who pull this together, so it may never be truly known. The only definite is that there will be more change next year.

The main worry about all this change is how this will impact on innocent accident victims. Claimant fee earners will be hard pressed to get to grips with more rule change and the nuances this will have on their clients. For instance, when you’re provided with a random selection of medical experts then how will this impact a client who can only do evening appointments if the ‘random’ expert can’t meet this requirement? What happens if the client has English as an additional language and would rather speak to an expert who speaks Urdu?  Explaining this, or just the selection process for an expert, is going to take a lot longer than previously and may well drive more firms away from acting in this sector as the costs are not going to be increasing to cover the additional work. This will be challenging to each and every law firm and will undoubtedly impact the very people who need help.