Government drops plans to include cyclists in small claims limit

The government has today dropped controversial plans to include cyclists and other vulnerable road users in a £5,000 small claims limit. 70 per cent of cyclists’ compensation claims are for injuries worth less than £5,000.

The step-down from the government also involves horse-riders, pedestrians and motorcyclists. Justice Secretary David Gauke MP announced that the government had dropped plans to include them in proposals to increase the small claims limit to £5,000. The announcement was made during the second reading of the Civil Liability Bill (Lords) in the House of Commons.

The small claims limit for personal injury claims currently sits at £1,000. 

Government proposals to increase the small claims limit to £5,000 were announced in December 2016. These proposals would mean people claiming compensation for injuries worth less than £5,000 would not recover legal costs, even where the other party was to blame. Cycling UK was concerned this would leave victims paying their own legal costs and not receiving full compensation.

This would have particularly affected cyclists, as analysis of past cases by Slater and Gordon and Leigh Day Solicitors showed 70 per cent of cyclists’ compensation claims are for injuries worth less than £5,000, such as fractures to collarbones, elbows, and wrists.

The government now plans to raise the small claims limit to £2,000, along with all other claims – a move which is still beyond the House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s recommendations for a £1,500 limit.

The government’s change in policy comes after campaigning by Cycling UK and Fletchers Solicitors which has met with officials and ministers since the initial changes were announced. 

Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore said: "Cycling UK is relieved the Government has at last listened to reason and dropped plans to increase the small claims limit for vulnerable road users to £5,000. This is a victory for common sense and ensures the interests of victims are put first.

“Increasing the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 would have cheated pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists from full compensation after being injured on our roads.

“Common injuries including among these groups include fractured collarbones and wrists, all of which usually sit below the proposed £5,000 threshold. However, if previous proposals had gone through, 70 per cent of vulnerable road users would have been prevented from recovering their legal costs even when someone else is to blame for their injuries. That’s neither fair nor right – and with Rory Stewart’s announcement today, both balance and victims’ rights have been restored.”

The plans for including cyclists in whiplash claims have also been dropped.

Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group Andrew Selous MP said: "I’m pleased to see the Ministry of Justice has listened to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, campaigners and 7,000 people who wrote to their MPs, and in doing so ensure our most vulnerable road users will always have access to justice when they need it. “

APPCG co-chair Ruth Cadbury MP added: "I welcome the decision by the Government to remove cyclists and other vulnerable road users from the Bill to tackle fraudulent whiplash claims, but they should never have been included in the first place as they don’t get whiplash injuries and they don’t make fraudulent whiplash claims."

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