Philippe Maso writes to Justice Min ister and Conservative shadow criticising scope of proposals.

AXA Insurance chief executive Philippe Maso has slammed the limited reforms to the personal injury claims process in a letter to Justice Minister Jack Straw.

Maso has also written to Straw’s Conservative party shadow, Nick Herbert, to express AXA’s disappointment with the reforms, announced in July, which are limited to motor claims.

In his letter to Straw, Maso wrote: “I do hope that these reform proposals are nothing more than a building block that will form part of a more fundamental set of changes still to come. Otherwise government policy will continue to fail many who have suffered injury, are unable to work and who might have looked forward to a speedier and fairer system under a modernised set of compensation reform proposals.”

In his letter to Herbert, he suggested that trade unions and claimant lawyer firms had successfully lobbied the government to water down the reforms, and asked for a meeting with the Conservatives.

Maso wrote: “There is a likelihood that both unions and claimant lawyer firms will experience a reduced income stream under a modernised regime. It will not have escaped your attention that the government may well have been influenced by the unions in coming to their final conclusions since they, along with claimant legal firms, may have concluded that reform was not in their best interests. Seemingly the government doesn’t want to contemplate alienating those who provide the majority of its funding at this delicate stage in the political calendar.”

The insurance industry was united in its disappointment with the final proposals for the overhaul of the personal injury claims system, which include the pilot of a fast track for motor claims under £10,000.

The original proposals, that included an overhaul of after-the-event (ATE) insurance, have been abandoned. There has been no decision on whether to introduce fixed legal fees for all claims – seen as crucial by the insurance industry, which believes lawyers are making fat profits from small claims, often winning more in fees than their claimants are awarded in settlements.

An advisory committee has been formed to consider fixed fees, with no date set to report back.