British Cycling recognises the need to address the ‘compensation culture’ but we are disappointed by the breadth of the government’s consultation on reforming the whiplash claims process.
Throughout the consultation, there is not a single mention of the impact that these reforms will have on non-motorised road users - including people on bikes, and it is clear that the proposals put forward would significantly reduce cyclists’ access to justice.
In particular, the issue of raising the small claims limit for all personal injury claims - including injuries sustained while cycling - to £5,000, goes far beyond the main aim of cracking down on whiplash claims.
Around 70% of claims made by cyclists are worth less than £5,000 and, if this proposal is approved, legal costs of claims under that amount would no longer be recoverable, directly impacting on injured cyclists’ access to justice following an incident.
Martin Key, British Cycling’s campaigns manager, said: “This is a disappointing set of proposals, and we felt the need to speak out publicly on behalf of Britain’s cyclists as well as submit our own response to the consultation.
“The vast majority of injuries sustained in cycling incidents are valued at under the proposed £5,000 limit, meaning that - under the new proposals - any cyclist involved in an incident would find it very difficult to get legal representation and therefore to be adequately compensated for their injuries.
“This would then have the opposite effect to that which the report sets out to achieve, and would encourage increased cold calls by claims management companies.
“The message that this sends to cyclists is one which conflicts with existing government policy. Increasing levels of cycling is a proven way to reduce congestion, improve the environment and reduce the burden on the NHS – the government needs to be encouraging more people to cycle, not putting extra obstacles in the way.”
British Cycling also objects to the consultation process running over the Christmas period, with the 6 January deadline for responses reducing the opportunity to produce robust responses to the broad number of issues raised.
We will be submitting an official response to the Ministry of Justice, and we would urge them to re-think the current proposals.