I was delighted to see the new President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) wasting no time at all in taking the fight to the insurance industry. In his first speech as leader, Mr Tonks was vociferous in his criticism of insurance companies who drive up costs unnecessarily and then pass them on to the consumer through higher premiums.
Under current law, we regularly witness insurers exercising their right to contest claims right up until a trial commences. This is crucial in driving up solicitors costs and usually necessitates a trial, which again costs a considerable amount.
In many cases – admittedly not all, but a fair amount – the facts are established by talented lawyers on both the claimant and defendant side. Yet the stubbornness of the insurers ensures the claim isn’t settled until the bitter and expensive final denouement in court.
As well as causing increased costs and more traffic in the court system, an insurer’s delaying tactics can punish the claimant further by making them wait far longer than necessary to receive their rightful compensation. A victim of serious personal injury may be off work due to their injuries, so they might need their compensation to fill a hole in their finances. Worrying about money is not ideal during an already very difficult period.
As President of APIL, a non-profit organisation which exists to fight for the rights of injured people, Mr Tonks is well placed to appeal to the government for more fairness in the debate between claimant and defendant lawyers. His forthright comments are admirable, and hopefully a good indication of the direction APIL is set to take under his presidency as it stands up for accident victims against the might of the insurance industry.