Legal Guides

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A guide to the April 2020 small claims limit increase

Next year, the government will increase the small claims limit in road traffic accident claims.

If you’re wondering how the change will affect you, the following article explains what the increase in the small claims limit means and how it will impact those hurt in road traffic collisions in the UK from April 2020 onwards.

What is the small claims limit?

The current small claims threshold is £1,000.  This means any claim with a value for general damages (for pain and suffering) which is below £1,000 will not be eligible for free legal advice, representation and support from a solicitor, and the claimant would have to pay for legal representation themselves

From April 2020, the small claims limit will increase from £1,000 to £5,000 in ALL road traffic accident cases.

Who will be affected by the increase?

Motorists who suffer an injury in a road traffic collision, and wish to make a claim, will have to pay for their legal representation if the value of their claim is less than £5,000, or they can choose to represent themselves or not bring a claim at all.

The government has estimated that 133,000 claims a year will not be pursued. They expect 50% of those with an injury that lasts up to six months to not go ahead with a claim.

Are there any exemptions?

Vulnerable road users (VRUs) will be exempt from the small claims increase. This means that the small claims limit will remain at £1,000 for cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and horse riders.

Certain employees, such as paramedics and the police, who are injured in a road traffic collision on one of these modes of transport are also exempt from the small claims limit increase.

For anyone else injured at work, the government plans to double the current £1,000 limit to £2,000.

The impact of these plans is that everyone other than VRUs will have free legal advice taken away from them if their claim has a value for pain and suffering of up to £5,000 if they’re involved in a road traffic accident and up to £2,000 in any other accident.

While the increase aims to restrict the number of claimants making whiplash claims (that was the government’s justification for making the changes) in fact, it will also mean that tens of thousands of people, who are injured in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own, will have to fund their claims themselves. Those affected will include people whose injuries have nothing to do with whiplash, as well as those injured at work whose claims are unrelated to a road traffic accident.

The 100% increase to £2,000 and the 400% increase to £5,000 for road traffic accident claims will affect everyone but particularly those on low salaries and minimum wages. £2,000 and £5,000 is a lot of money to most people but particularly those on the lowest wages who don’t have the money to pay for legal representation or don’t have the time to fight their own claims. Worse still, they risk losing it if they choose to fund their cases themselves and their claims are unsuccessful.

Author: Thompsons Solicitors

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. It is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered above, please speak to Thompsons Solicitors directly.

Published on 20th November 2019
(Last updated 7th May 2021)