A broad coalition today met in Parliament to jointly call on the Government to step back from pushing more workplace injury cases through the small claims court process.
The Civil Liability Act 2018 reformed whiplash claims and is now being implemented. The Government also proposes to change the rules for employer liability personal injury cases, by doubling the threshold for the small claims court.
Opening the event, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“We’re meeting to discuss the Government’s proposal to double the small claims limit for employer’s liability cases; an issue of utmost importance to my union. From time to time workers will have workplace accidents and injured workers need legal representation to exercise their rights, receive a fair hearing and get justice.
“Usdaw has opposed an increase in the small claims limit since the introduction of the Civil Liability Bill in Parliament. Our main objection is increasing the small claims limit will unnecessarily restrict access to justice for tens of thousands of injured workers. It will also have a negative impact on health & safety standards in workplaces.
“This proposed change forms part of the package of reforms introduced with the Civil Liability Act. While there are different opinions on the changes relating to whiplash claims, a consensus has emerged that the Government should not pursue the proposal to increase the small claims limit for employer’s liability claims. This consensus is reflected by the broad spectrum of organisations represented on this panel.”
Richard Miller – Head of Justice at The Law Society said:
“Our concern about these proposals is about access to justice, in particular the provision of medical reports. Medical reports are not cheap and using the small claims court route makes it unaffordable for many claimants. You can’t bring a personal injury claim without a medical report, so there is a fundamental issue around access to the courts.”
James Dalton – Director of the Association of British Insurers said:
“Workplace safety is an absolutely critical component of the world of work. What has never been the priority for us is employer liability and public liability cases, so we’re happy to support this campaign.
Lawrence Waterman OBE – Chairman of the British Safety Council:
“Our vision is no-one is injured or made ill through their work. When an employer gets it wrong it often results in a worker being harmed. Injured workers deserve to be compensated for their injuries, that’s why the British Safety Council is pleased to be a supporter of the Usdaw campaign.”
Gerard Stilliard – Thompsons Solicitors:
“Everyone agrees that injured workers matter and as claimants’ solicitors we seek fair compensation for them. Nobody has said there are problems with fraudulent employment claims, so we don’t see the benefit of the reforms. The Government has been sensible and made exclusions from the increase, so we want to see employer liability and public liability claims also exempted.”
Closing the meeting, Paddy Lillis concluded:
“The proposed increase from £1,000 to £2,000 in the small claim’s limit for employer’s liability cases is unnecessary and unjustified. It will restrict access to justice for thousands of genuinely injured employees who have sustained injury through no fault of their own and place unnecessary strain on the justice system with the increased number of unrepresented claimants.
“Usdaw therefore calls on the Government to exclude employer’s liability cases from the proposed increase in the small claims limit and to treat injured employees in the same way as it has already chosen to treat other vulnerable claimants involved in the court process.”
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.