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Small claims limit could rise to £15,000

29 March 2011

In a surprise move, the Ministry of Justice went way beyond its approval of the Jackson review this afternoon by proposing an increase in the limit for small claims from £5,000 to £15,000.

In a consultation on the reform of the county courts, the government also suggested that every small claims case should automatically be referred to mediation. The upper limit on other cases at the county court would rise from £15,000 to £100,000. Claims worth over £15,000 would be referred to mediation information sessions.

Meanwhile, the MoJ said the scope of the portal for RTA claims should be expanded from personal injury to include medical negligence and employers’ and public liability and the top limit raised from £10,000 to £50,000.

The government confirmed that it will go ahead with all the key components of the Jackson review: abolishing recoverability of success fees and insurance premiums in conditional fee cases, capping success fees at 25 per cent of damages, increasing general damages by ten per cent and introducing qualified one-way costs shifting.

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said he wanted to “reverse the mechanics of the compensation culture”.

Djanogly said expanding the RTA portal to cover employer’s liability and medical negligence and raising its upper limit to £50,000 would mean that it covered up to 90 per cent of such cases.

A spokesman for the MoJ said afterwards that increasing the small claims limit to £15,000 would increase the number of such cases by more than ten per cent or 12,000 from their current total of 93,000.

A further 10,000 small claims cases would go to mediation if all cases were automatically referred. The spokesman said around 87,000 cases a year were currently dealt with by mediation.

Meanwhile, the government plans to increase the limit on cases involving equity in property dealt with by the county courts from £30,000 to £350,000.

The existing disparate county court structure would be swept away and replaced by a single national service for all civil and family claims, allowing the transfer of cases between court centres. High Court judges would be able to sit in the county courts where necessary.

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Risk & Compliance Children Clinical negligence Road traffic Courts & Judiciary