MASS criticises Ministry for ignoring evidence to suit its policy agenda
This article first appeared in the Solicitors Journal, 16th January 2017
Road traffic lawyers have accused the Ministry of Justice of cherry-picking data to justify its attack pursue a policy agenda undermining the rights of motor accident casualties.
Simon Stanfield, chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) said it was ‘hugely disappointing that the MoJ has adopted the tactic of selectively using DfT data to try and justify its attack upon the rights of motor accident victims’.
The MoJ’s recent consultation paper on the whiplash claims process revealed that the number of reported accidents between 2006 and 2015 had fallen from 190,000 to 142,000.
However, figures published in parliament last week revealed that the Department for Transports’ best yearly estimates of unreported road traffic accidents between 2011 and 2015 were around 460,000 ‘slight’ injuries and around 60,000 serious injuries.
‘What we need is evidence-based policy to tackle the issues in the claims sector, not continued attempts to ignore the evidence of the number of road casualties to suit its policy agenda,’ Stanfield commented. ‘With the evidence now before parliament in black and white, the MoJ just now acknowledge that its evidence base for these proposals is seriously and perhaps fatally flawed’.
MASS added that the MoJ had ‘systematically chosen to ignore’ the DfT’s best estimate that there are around 710,000 people injured in road traffic accidents (reported and unreported) each year.
The society claims that MoJ ministers and supporters of the proposals have chosen to focus on reported accidents only and have regularly used the false argument that while accidents have declined by 26 per cent since 2006, claims have gone up by 50 per cent.
Donna Scully, a partner at Carpenters, also commented on the findings: ‘This is important. The MoJ canny bury its head in the sand and ignore half a million RTA casualties and that go unreported each year’.
‘Using the DfT figures, there will still be 700,000 or so road accident casualties even after the governments’ reforms. These are real people that will still need insurers and lawyers to look after them’.