UK Becoming litigious country

Topics: Insurance, Lawsuit, Whiplash Pages: 5 (1766 words) Published: December 5, 2013

Over recent years the UK has become an extremely litigious country .’ In authoritative detail, evaluate to what extent you agree with the above statement.

A popular public perception of the UK is that it, as the US has also been described, has become a ‘litigation nation’ meaning that the country has an extremely high number of court cases and the most minor of situations are brought through courts in order to resolve the issues that have arisen. It seems for every injury or loss suffered someone other than the individual who suffers the loss is to blame and that where there is blame there is a claim – and there’s always blame(1). It seems society no longer appears to accept the concept of a genuine accident. This can be seen as a dangerous route to go down as a large amount of money is given out for compensation claims and many abnormal legal actions are taken which could, in time, result in the legal, medical and insurance systems grinding to a halt. There are many cases which back up this portrayal that the UK has of being this ‘litigation nation’, however there are also a number of things which contradict this view.

A factor which gives the perception that the UK is this litigation nations is that fact that claims for injuries sustained by car crashes are on the rise,(2) which is contradictory as the number of crashes that take place has fallen.(3)Up to 90% of all car crash claims are for small amounts of money due to whiplash, with people receiving up to £20,000 for this resulting in a huge pay out of nearly one billion pounds a year. Undoubtedly a high number of these people are fraudsters and fakers, up to a reported 60%,(4). “Whiplash injuries can have debilitating consequences for those who suffer them. However, some of the increase in whiplash claims will have been due to fraud or exaggeration.” Launching the report by the Transport Select Committee, the Chair Louise Ellman MP considered how some people now are even faking car accidents, or setting them up in order to be able to claim. In the first case of its kind, Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited v. Bashir & Ors, QBD , (5) Samina Bashir admitted fabricating a car crash for more than £5000 in damages after claiming that she had been involved in a serious car accident involving three cars. In his summary of the case, Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, said their conduct ‘strikes at the very heart of our justice system’ and actually hinders people’s insurance policies. “To help bring insurance premiums down the Government must tighten up the requirements for motor insurance claims and ensure that insurers honour their commitment to reduce premiums” Louise Ellman also stated. Jack Straw, a British MP, thought up the idea to set up medical panels to assess the claims in more depth.(6) He said: “There were a handful of whiplash claims before 2004. It is only since these claims companies have sprung up that they have grown. The people of England and Wales now have the weakest necks in Europe”. This case and the fact that whiplash claims are on the rise proves that people in the UK are more willing to claim and take legal action than before and backs up the idea that we have developed a much more litigious nature.

It seems a problematic factor in the number of cases rising is the “no win, no fee” basis that many solicitors are now using. If this was not the case, the amount of people claiming for minor injuries would decrease vastly as people would not want to take the risk of losing out on money. By being able to claim for injuries for ‘no fee’ it gives people the idea that they would be stupid not to try and claim money from their situation and results in the high amount of compensation pay outs widely reported. The potential costs to employers, businesses etc of defending such claims are so high-priced, due to the nature of the no win – no fee agreements, that they have no real...

Bibliography: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/news/whiplash-report/
http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/about-the-scottish-court-service/the-scottish-civil-courts-reform
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