Civil Justice Council creates rehab summit in February

The Civil Justice Council, a statutory adviser to the Lord Chancellor, is to take on the issue of rehabilitation in personal injury cases by hosting a meeting between government, insurance and legal representatives.

The event, which is due in February 2004, will try to establish a common strategy on how the UK can improve its "shameful" record of not getting people back to work after serious injury.

Secretary to the CJC Bob Musgrove said: "The aim is to start looking at what the barriers are to getting rehabilitation going. What areas can you start to have an impact in? And what do you need to do to get victims of accidents back to work? I think the opportunity for rehabilitation is here."

The announcement was backed up by a speech made by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, to the Forum of Insurance Lawyers annual conference last week who called the present system shameful.

He said: "Rehabilitation is, I am convinced, the most important element in what should be the response to any serious personal injury.

"Statistics demonstrate this beyond peradventure, and they are statistics of which we should be ashamed.

"Some insurers offer their own rehabilitation programmes but these are, I believe, a minority."

Lord Phillips went on to list four problems that need to be tackled before rehabilitation can effectively enter the claims settlement process.

  • Ignorance. Too many lawyers are not aware of the benefits of rehabilitation
  • Inertia. Lawyers do not seek out rehabilitation as part of a claim settlement.
  • Suspicion. Claimants tend to regard rehabilitation as a 'Greek' gift
  • Lack of facilities. There would not be sufficient infrastructure to cope with a significant surge in demand.
  • Lord Phillips said: "I welcome the government's positive interest in rehabilitation, and I would like to offer it the assistance of the Civil Justice Council."