Exclusive: Access to Justice has unleashed a barrage of criticism over a survey commissioned by the Association of British Insurers, claiming it is “worthless propaganda”.
The survey of 2088 people was carried out by Consumer Intelligence on behalf of the ABI. The results have been released in the run up to the second reading of the Civil Liability Bill in parliament, which is slated to take place on Tuesday.
The findings include that 71% of people would feel comfortable using an online portal, while 87% felt that legal costs for personal injury motor claims were too high.
However, campaign group Access to Justice spokesperson Andrew Twambley believes that the question set used by the ABI was not a credible method of gauging public opinion.
Twambley told Post: “The questions are a complete load of worthless propaganda from an organisation that has lost all credibility on the subject. In fact, they may have well have asked the questions in the ABI canteen they are so loaded.
“There was only ever one answer to any question, the way they were put. There could not be any other answer.”
In addition to criticising the questions asked, Access to Justice has taken issue with an ABI calculation that for every £1 paid in compensation, claimant lawyers will receive 50p.
Twambley explained that lawyers receive a fixed fee of £495 from insurers in the event of a successful claim. They will then take around a 25% cut of the compensation.
The ABI question gives the example of a £2000 claim. Broken down, with fees and taking a 25% cut, lawyers would receive £995. This is close to the ABI’s estimate of £1000.
However, Twambley argues that once VAT is taken into consideration, along with the cost of doctors’ fees, notes and other required expenses, the real take home is far lower than the ABI suggests.
Twambley said: “Break those down – a standard fee is £495. Does it include doctors’ fees, does it include VAT, does it include GP notes? All things which we are forced to get because of their insured’s actions.”
“Six percent [of respondents] thought that lawyers weren’t paid enough though, they’re the ones I want to champion,” Twambley added.
In response to the criticism of the survey, a spokesperson for the ABI said: “The survey was carried out by an independent reputable polling company. The results show that the public are not fooled by those exploiting the system.”
The ABI has revealed five of the multiple choice questions the public were asked to complete
- For every £1 which is paid out in personal injury compensation, on average an extra 50p is paid out to lawyers. So, for example, if you won a claim with a pay-out to the value of £2000, lawyers would also be paid approximately £1000. Do you think that this is…Far too little, too little, about right, too much, far too much.
- The government has proposed plans for reforms to simplify the personal injury compensation process for settling lower value claims. This will likely include steps such as introducing an online process to replace the need for legal representation in low value claims scenarios. The reform is estimated by the Government to reduce the price of a yearly motor insurance premium by £35 on average. How do you feel about this proposed reform and the impact it will have on consumers? Very negative, mostly negative, I’m not sure, mostly positive, very positive.
- Imagine you had to make a low value personal injury claim, to the value of £2000. How would you feel about submitting the claim using a simple online form, which would result in a straightforward settlement process, rather than seeking legal representation?‘ Respondents were asked to rank on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being ‘Totally uncomfortable – I would always seek legal representation’ and 7 being ‘Very comfortable – I would be happy to use a simpler process to settle a claim’.
- Please rank the following factors in terms of how important they are to you, if you were to make a low value personal injury claim, where 1 is the most important and 5 is the least important.’ The available options are: A quick pay-out, a simple process, ability to reclaim legal costs, being able to submit my claim online, reduced insurance premiums.
- Thinking about the increase in the number of motor personal injury claims, to what extent do you think that the following factors may be responsible for this?’ The possible responses are: “compensation culture” environment, claims management firms encouraging claims, increased quantity of cold-calls and texts encouraging claims, growth in whjplash-style claims, deliberate “cash for crash” motor collisions, more public awareness that compensation can be claimed for genuine injuries, higher levels of public confidence in making a claim, increased number of “no-win, no-fee” style lawyers.
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