§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the small claims procedure in the county courts will be extended to cover lower value personal injury claims.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
The small claims arbitration procedure provides an accessible, informal and inexpensive means of resolving straightforward money claims through the county courts. The level at which claims are automatically referred to arbitration on receipt of a defence was doubled last year from £500 to £1,000. Plaintiffs claiming unspecified amounts, as is often the case where people claim compensation for personal injuries, are at present free to limit their claim to £1,000 if they wish to benefit from the advantages of the informal procedure. It is my intention to encourage more personal injury litigants to benefit from these advantages, in a way which would safeguard equally the interests of both parties to a claim. The responses to a consultation paper published last year have suggested that provisions for costs should be part of the scheme. I am considering further what can be done to meet this suggestion.