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Civil Liability Bill committee urged to back Usdaw's Justice for Injured Workers Campaign

Date: 11 September 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging MPs on the Civil Liability Bill committee to address concerns about Government proposals that will restrict injured workers’ access to justice, by forcing more cases through the small claims court in England and Wales. The committee starts its detailed scrutiny of the Bill today.
Measures linked to the Civil Liability Bill will double the threshold for cases taken in the small claims court to £2,000. Usdaw is backing the cross-party Justice Select Committee recommendation of a £1,500 limit, which reflects inflation since the limit was last set in 1999.
Usdaw believes that the increase in the small claims limit will:
  • Prevent meritorious claims being brought before the courts and will create an imbalance in legal representation between claimants and defendants.
  • Worsen health and safety standards within the workplace, increasing the risk of an employee being injured while restricting their ability to seek redress.
  • Significantly increase incidents of cold calling and fraudulent claims, because of the prevalence of case management companies who will fill the vacuum created when regulated solicitors are forced to leave the market.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “The proposed reforms are unfair, unnecessary and will significantly restrict access to justice for injured workers in England and Wales. The only beneficiaries of these reforms will be unscrupulous employers and claims management companies.
“The Government has made the welcome announcement that vulnerable road users will be excluded from the application of the tariff and the proposed increase in the small claims limit. An injured worker is also a ‘vulnerable’ claimant due to the unique pressures that arise for an employee pursuing a claim against their own employer and the often complex legal issues arising from such claims.
“We are asking MPs to support our campaign to stop the Government forcing more injured workers into the small claims court, where the costs of legal representation cannot be recovered from negligent employers. We want the Government to accept the reasonable and fair compromise of raising the threshold to £1,500.”
Usdaw is deeply concerned that the Government is trivialising serious injuries incurred at work where the employer is at fault, by forcing victims into the small claims court. Usdaw is asking MPs if these injuries would be a small issue if an accident resulted in a worker suffering:
  • A black eye, broken nose and split lip.
  • Back pain so bad they cannot pick up their own child.
  • Facial injuries and scarring.
  • An ankle injury that stops them from driving for months.
  • Anxiety attacks when they go back to work after being assaulted by a shoplifter.
Constituents can help the campaign by asking their MP to oppose the Government’s plans. It’s quick and easy to do with Usdaw’s online e-mail your MP facility at: www.usdaw.org.uk/Justice4InjuredWorkers
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
House of Commons Justice Committee - Small claims limit for personal injury - Seventh Report of Session 2017–19: “81. We are deeply unimpressed by the Ministry of Justice’s inability to quantify the potential impact of raising to £2,000 the small claims limit for employer liability and public liability claims. Given the potential complexity of these claims for self-represented claimants and evidence of the role of litigation in maintaining safe and healthy workplaces, we recommend that they continue to be subject to the lowest small claims threshold—which we have recommended should be set at around £1,500 to take account of inflation since 1999.” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmjust/659/659.pdf
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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