On non-road traffic accident-related personal injuries, the decision has been made to increase the small claims limit from £1,000, where it was set in 1991, to £2,000 in line with retail prices index inflation. This is in line with what happens in many other European countries—in Norway, for example—in taking lawyers out of the smallest claims.
In the light of the Supreme Court ruling on the Unison employment tribunal case, will the Minister think again? Increasing the small claims limit would remove the ability of many people injured in the workplace to pursue claims against their employees. The Minister will know from the Justice Committee’s report that litigation is the main driver for maintaining health and safety in the workplace.
The important thing to understand about the small claims process is that the shift from £1,000 to £2,000 is simply to ensure that the original 1991 legislation keeps up with inflation—the RPI increase—in line with the Judicial College guidelines. This is not about people with catastrophic, life-changing injuries, but about people with injuries below the £2,000 level. We are making sure that the small claims process is fair, transparent and easy for the public to access without expensive lawyers.
In its report on the small claims limit increases, the Justice Committee noted the
“compelling evidence of the obstacles that would be faced”,
and concluded that the changes would
“represent an unacceptable barrier to access to justice.”
Will the Minister listen and think again before pursuing another attack on workers?
I am always prepared to meet the hon. Lady and to listen. I emphasise again that this is simply a change in line with RPI. The small claims limit was set at £1,000 in 1991. The proposal is now to move it to £2,000, which is simply in line with the retail prices index, so that we have the same fair policy today that we had in 1991.