Minister blamed for failure to address concerns in Compensation Bill

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, faced fierce criticism from the insurance industry this week for failing to address concerns over the Compensation Bill.

Delegates at a conference organised by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) were expecting

Lord Facloner to provide guidance on the Bill's proposed operation.

But according to one source, observers were left "disappointed" by "yet another speech which failed to talk about the real concerns of the industry".

One issue is the Bill's attempt to give guidance on what constitutes a negligent act. The Bill says that courts should consider the desirability of activity when deciding whether the standards of care have been met.

Solicitor Charles Layfield, a partner with Pannone & Partners, said: "People were looking for guidance on the Bill and what he means by a 'desirable activity'. That was not given."

Also in his speech, Lord Falconer reiterated that claims management companies would be regulated and that the regulator would have statutory powers to "enforce regulation effectively".

Another observer said: "These are all things which we have heard before. We thought there would be some talk about what is going to happen next. It is disappointing."

Meanwhile, Lord Falconer said the DCA would not introduce a blanket ban on all claims advertising. "The emphasis must be on stopping improper advertising," he said.

He said the DCA and the Advertising Standards Authority had commissioned research on the impact of advertising on personal injury compensation claims. The final report is expected to be published in February.

Bill won't cut claims, says survey
The publication of the Compensation Bill will do little to reduce the number of personal injury claims filed, a survey by Grant Thornton has found.

Of 100 solicitors surveyed, 45% expected personal injury claims to increase by almost 20% over the next two years, while 55% said the level of claims filed would remain static.

Also more than a third of claimants said they had inflated expectations about the value of their case. Solicitors also saw a 22% rise in the number of "spurious" claims.

More consultation needed, say firms
The government should consult industry and the public sector more widely on the 'compensation culture' to introduce "tighter limits on compensation awards and more ambitious reform", according to a survey by Aon.

The survey found that 86% of the organisations surveyed had been detrimentally affected by the compensation culture this year, either directly or through rising insurance costs.

The businesses surveyed also lacked confidence that the government would effectively tackle the issue. It revealed that 92% of those questioned doubted the Compensation Bill would address the issue. A further 93% thought the government had not done enough in this area.