A better regulated system will benefit us all, says Anthony Burns-Howell

' After the Insurance Times-organised personal injury claims conference last week I am more convinced than ever, and more confident too, about the future of self-regulation in the personal injury sector.

Many people approached me after Lord Falconer's address to express their enthusiasm for the principles and the attitude he outlined on behalf of the government, and they were generally of the same mind as Lord Hunt in thinking the Lord Chancellor's announcements "potentially historic".

The big players, and sometimes payers, in the sector have also been enthusiastic in their reactions, with the ABI describing the government's response to Better Routes to Redress as a significant breakthrough in ministerial thinking. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers welcomed the "debunking of common myths" about the existence of a compensation culture, a response that will resonate in many of us.

For the Better Regulation Task Force's part, deputy chair Teresa Graham, who also spoke at the conference, said she was disappointed that the government had not taken up more of its recommendations. However, as she described the practice of advertising in hospitals and doctors' surgeries for claimants as "grubby and distasteful", I hope she will at least consider this to be a start.

The effect of good regulation will, as we know, be multifold: the public will get a better service and insurers will pay out less; the encouragement of rehabilitation as an adjunct to other treatment will reduce costs to employers and the state in benefits.

As Lord Falconer points out, a reduced fear of speculative claims will allow the public services to concentrate on what they are meant to do rather than avoiding trouble.

The fact that the government wants to - and is now seen to want to - tackle the unacceptable practices sometimes seen in claims management makes the task offered us in the Claims Standards Council something more than just an aspiration.

Now it is a challenge and as the council's chief executive I am very keen to make it an achievement. IT

' Dr Anthony Burns-Howell is chief executive of the Claims Standards Council