Government action is long overdue, says Andy Cook

' What a relief! Well over a year has passed since our industry had the government actually doing something about issues close to our hearts.

In the wake of 9/11, when liability rates were soaring, the government was forced into action - setting up reviews, changing the way terrorism was covered by Pool Re and so forth. And before that, the government was forced into action over flooding.

But since then all has been quiet. That was until last Wednesday. Speaking at the first Insurance Times Future of Personal Injury Claims conference, Lord Falconer launched the government's policy to beat compensation culture (or, at least, the perception of compensation culture).

And while the conference was packed with claimant lawyers and claims management companies (arguably the groups with the most to lose), the impact of the speech will, as Lord Hunt put it, be historic.

Lord Falconer has opened the door for change and with it he (or rather the Better Regulation Task Force that prompted him into action with its report Better Routes to Redress) has brought the Department of Health and Department of Work and Pensions to coordinate thinking on issues such as rehabilitation.

I won't go into the detail of what he said (the speech is available at and a summary of his points is on page 10), but there are two important points to take away. The government says conditional fees are here to stay. So like it or not, claims will continue to flow. But, the government has pledged to research the costs attached to these claims with the aim of making sure they are proportional to damages.

The other point to take away is that the government is fed up with seeing claimants left high and dry by claims management companies. It will give these claims companies just a few months to prove they can regulate themselves. If not, regulation and hopefully an end to the taint that our industry receives from all of these forlorn claimants.