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Hamilton Ross
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Serving Clients in Lanarkshire for over 15 Years.

How the Face of Personal Injury Law has changed within The Last Two Years

The All Scotland Personal Injury Court

Since its establishment on 22 September 2015, the All Scotland Personal Injury Court (ASPIC) has changed the way in which personal injury cases are dealt with in Scotland. Previously, the Court of Session would deal with personal injury cases that consisted of claims exceeding £5,000 and the Sheriff Court would deal with cases where the claims fell short of that limit. However, with the introduction of ASPIC the £5,000 limit vastly increased to £100,000, allowing ASPIC to deal with much of the personal injury cases which were once presented within the Court of Session. This of course benefits the people involved within such a claim and the law firms which represent them. The legal costs involved in such a claim will be lower as advocates will not be required to represent the parties within the Court of Session as solicitors have a right to an audience within ASPIC. This will of course also benefit the law firms representing the parties, not so much with legal costs as this will be covered by the client or the other party, but more so regarding time. The law firms involved are not required to submit themselves to lengthy discussions with advocates to instruct them properly and waste valuable time traveling backwards and forwards attending such meetings. This is not to say that advocates are not required in all cases as some cases can been extremely complicated and instructing an advocate and making use of their legal knowledge can indeed end up saving a vast amount of time and effort on the law firm’s behalf.

The Discount Rate

On 28 March 2017, the discount rate awarded within personal injury cases changed from 2.5% to -0.75% in Scotland, coinciding with the same rate coming into force within England and Wales on 20 March 2017. The previous rate of 2.5% was set out in 2001 which was based on returns generated by index-linked government stocks and the new rate of -0.75% is based on a three-year average of real returns on index-linked gilts. Although each case will be affected differently by this change, it will still have a significant effect on the payments awarded within personal injury cases. This change will drastically affect the way law firms value their claims and due to this change those valuations will need to be completely revised so that they are able to correctly advise their clients on the worth of their given claim. Even though it did take 16 years for the discount rate to change from the previous rate set out in 2001, we should not expect the current rate to last as long, as it was announced by the Ministry of Justice that the discount rate will be reviewed at least every three years.

Although there are arguments for and against these changes, both of which can be very compelling, there is no mistake that the face of personal injury law within Scotland has drastically changed in the last two years.

This blog post was written by Kevin Currie LLB( Homs), currently studying for the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice

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