Promoting rehabilitation has been like trying to stay in the Premier League – it's a great idea, financially beneficial, but difficult to maintain mo-mentum.

But rehabilitation has, in fact, enjoyed determined support from both sides of the personal injury field in the past few years. Recently, efforts have been spearheaded by the International Underwriting Association/Association of British Insurers Rehabilitation Working Party, set up in 1998, and the Bodily Injuries Claims Managers Association.

Their continuing campaign has led to many improvements, such as:

  • greater acceptance of rehabilitation by claimants' representatives
  • permeation of the principle into more insurers
  • wider knowledge and use of the Code of Best Practice on Rehabilitation
  • the realisation that rehabilitation can work in smaller, as well as larger, value personal injury cases
  • the increase in the number of rehabilitation providers in the market
  • the probable creation of the Case Managers Association later this year.

    We still have the odd “tackle from behind”, such as some claimants' representatives refusing or appearing unwilling to embrace rehabilitation. Some insurers still won't fund it, and rehabilitation providers “linked” with an insurer cause suspicion.

    Another problem is the money spent on ineffective rehabilitation (usually because insufficient thought is given to goals/aims at the start of it), and the inability to measure quality of rehabilitation providers. Finally, there are struggles with the fragmented and, frankly, inadequate NHS rehabilitation on offer, despite lobbying by the Working Party.

    Woolf provided the framework to encourage greater liaison between parties in a dispute. Now that the claimants' representatives and insurers realise the benefits of rehabilitation, it may be time to embrace it the same way as mediation was, and for it to become a mandatory consideration in any personal injury case of reasonable value.

    Relegation is not a threat to rehabilitation – it's been in the top flight for many years. It now needs to be pushed into the Champions League.

  • Mike McKenna is chairman of Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil) Special Interests.

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