Personal injury professionals got up on their soapboxes this month. A tub thumping opening address from the new APIL president saw Karl Tonks' words juxtaposed with a final battle against the LASPO Bill.
And so, after months of debate, amendments and numerous defeats, the government finally pushed through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill late on 25th April.
After previously invoking Financial Privilege and restricting debate time in the Commons, MPs lead by the Coalition forced through the majority of its plans, but not without causing uproar in the process.
MPs rejected crucial amendments to LASPO at its third reading on April 17th, while cries of 'shame' were directed at Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly who helped vote through clauses which could directly affect victims of industrial diseases like mesothelioma. However, it was the minister's apparent demeanour which got most people's backs up, with the story dubbed #gigglegate on twitter after Mr Djanogly was perceived to be taking a less than serious attitude towards proceedings.
In a move most likely dubbed as 'insult to injury', Mr Djanogly's subsequent no-show at the APIL conference 24 hours later was noted by many people at the event; the minister being replaced at the last minute by his junior Robert Wright MP. He told delegates that the government was firm on the extension of the MOJ Road Traffic Accident portal and a "significant" reduction in costs from April 2013, alongside the broader Jackson reforms and LASPO plans.
To these suggestions, Mr Tonks replied in no uncertain terms at his first Presidential Address at the conference: "If I stole your wallet, would you be happy if I offered to give it you back, only with 25% of its contents removed?
"Insurers wonder why claims go up - they're as deluded as a chronic alcoholic who can't understand why he wakes up with a headache"
The APIL President went on to emphasise the body's support for the creation of a fund of last resort for untraceable employers liability insurance policies and vowed that there was still "much to be fought for".
As Premextra went to press, both sides of the personal injury profession were locking horns at the Whiplash 2012 conference, organised by Lyons Davidson Solicitors. A programme of speakers from medical experts and academics, through insurers to legislators and politicians debated the topic in significant detail. At Premex we applaud any platform for sensible debate, which this conference enabled by delivering a broad range of evidence and opinion laid out over three days. Oh, and Jack Straw was there too.