John Jackson is unimpressed by the Conservative Party's lackadaisical response to the claims culture
Anyone who switches on the television on an afternoon will soon be looking at advertisements about how to obtain compensation for personal injuries. Presumably this is because all these 'badly injured' people are stretched out on the settee, nursing their pain-wracked bodies, watching the screen.
"But will I get 100% of the compensation?" goes one such advert.
"Oh, yes" comes the smug reply.
The present Labour government is obsessed with regulation and interfering in the minutiae of everyday life. It is Old Labour policy - the red meat of socialism - that the man in Whitehall knows best.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs now plans to open the floodgates to clinical negligence cases by replacing legal aid with conditional fee funding.
So the issue has reached political proportions - but don't expect it to figure prominently in the General Election - even though the Tories are on the case.
Indeed, I was less than impressed with the answers Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin gave in his interview to Insurance Times (News, 20 January) on compensation culture. His cure? To quote him: "A whole booklet of proposals."
I'm afraid the Tories are too weak on too many issues, including this one, so don't think that if they win the forthcoming election that they will end the bonanza of the personal injury lawyers.
It is not surprising that a party that complains about the government's
66 stealth taxes, but won't say which it will abolish with an election only weeks away, can only say it will produce a "booklet" on compensation culture.
Legal aid had stood the test of time, but the ever-busy, itchy bureaucratic minds were determined to find "other solutions". What a relief - and a shock - it would be, if a political party said it would scrap all this nonsense and return to legal aid.
Worse than the compensation culture is what has given rise to it - the "my rights" culture. When did you last hear about a "my responsibilities" culture? It is the fear of facing a personal injury claim that lies at the heart of this problem.
The government seems determined to fuel that fear over clinical negligence. What will the government's proposals do for the confidence of those in the health service? How will insurance premiums be affected in an atmosphere where the legal risk becomes much greater?
Perhaps if these compensation claimants had to put up a minimum fee before taking legal action, to be forfeited where they lost a case, they would think twice about it.
Oh, yes - and wait for the obligatory letter to Insurance Times from the personal injury lawyers attacking me for suggesting there is such a thing as a compensation culture. It will be postmarked "Planet Zog."