Foil president Anthony Hughes debates the MOJ's fee structure for small motor claims
At last the MOJ have announced the fee structure for the new RTA process. The long awaited announcement was delayed due to Parliament going in to recess over the summer. It’s pleasing to see that, after much deliberation, something concrete has been agreed - but why is it not the wholesale announcement that we were promised? And where are the Part 36 provisions?
Surely this has not just come as a rushed response to the fact that the Jackson mediations on costs are taking place? ‘Oh you cynic’ - I hear you cry! Political jockeying between the CJC & MOJ .....who has ever heard of such a thing?
Just when we thought that all the hard work had been done in terms of the reforms I think it is now clear that there is a huge amount of effort needed to achieve our go live objective of April 2010, particularly around the IT piece which is now full steam ahead. My worry is that the MOJ’s announcement on the 23rd stated that it would make efforts to implement the process "...with a view to going live in April 2009..." Is this an attempt to create political wriggle room?
Speaking of the Jackson review, Lord Justice J spent much of the summer on his ambitious project to agree fixed fees on the fast track across all areas of personal injury, and it has not been without drama - APIL withdrew from the talks on 9 September. Admittedly it was a tough task set by Jackson - especially as only one day was allowed for each mediation - however it's regrettable that APIL have chosen not to be involved in this important work. Practitioners need to recognise that the legal world is changing and it is important that all sides join the debate. These are not issues that will go away and, as far as Foil is concerned, non engagement in the reform debates is not a credible option. Luckily, the discussions were not derailed significantly by this snub. Dan Cutts (who will take over as president in November) attended from Foil and reported that whilst no agreement was reached the parties agreed to disagree and makes their points to Jackson separately.
In terms of activity for the coming month, we will be starting the interview process for our new chief executive post, a role that we see as the 'final piece in the puzzle' of our development over the past two years. It's quite a unique position to fill - the CEO will work closely with elected officials to gain influence at Whitehall, whilst ensuring Foil remains true to delivering what our membership needs on a day-to-day basis - so Claire McKinney (our director for change, who is leading the process) certainly has her work cut out. Clearly the quiet summer period is well and truly over! Oh well, at least the football season has gotten off to a flying start!
Anthony Hughes is president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil) and chief executive at Horwich Farrelly.