Ministry of Justice personal injury reforms will place greater time constraints on insurers than claimant lawyers, according to Tony Emms, motor claims director at Zurich.
Mr Emms said that while the reforms will pressure insurers into reacting more quickly to claims, they would not add sufficient pressure to claimant solicitors' deadlines.
"On our side, if we miss our deadlines, there are sanctions — but not on the lawyers. I believe lawyers will want to get into the process and get their £400 plus VAT [for stage 1], but from then on there will be no incentive [for them] to move things on any more quickly," he said.
Mr Emms stressed that insurers must ensure they abide by the time deadlines set out in the new rules and must not let claimants 'drop out' of the process.
He also warned that insurers covering fleets that operate outside the UK would be vulnerable to the changes: "It is not easy for these organisations, and it is hard to get co-operation from customers to even hear about these claims within 15 days — let alone decide on liability.
However, he praised the "well balanced, well thought out solutions" from Lord Justice Jackson's review of civil litigation costs.
Mr Emms felt the report (www.postonline.co.uk/1586174) highlighted positives for both parties. "The package is a very balanced one, with good and bad for both sides. We must ensure we keep the package's recommendations as a whole to make it a success. The MoJ has already shown us that the beginning and the end can look quite different," he said.
Mr Emms added that Sir Rupert's report would ensure claimants took responsibility for bringing a civil action. "Will a claimant accept litigation knowing he has to pay 10% of the costs?" he continued.
"The report puts the claimant back in the process, and is more about the claimant than the cost. Anything that takes that view gets my vote."
However, the main package will take lots of legislation and development beyond 2010."
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