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MPs targeted by bereavement compensation reformers

A campaign video calling for reform of compensation rules for bereavement and psychiatric harm was launched by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers in January to mark the 100 day countdown to the general election.

The video aims to attract the attention if MPs and parliamentary candidates in a bid to change rules for bereavement damages. Currently the law in England and Wales allows awards to married partners only, unlike in Scotland where judges can rule on who is entitled to a settlement. 

An APIL spokeswoman told Post Magazine: "Our aim is to ensure that the families of those who are killed or injured are on their radar of MPs and candidates when the next government is formed." 

Court fee cost increase could cause injustice

Another political story involved a Ministry of Justice proposal to raise court fees to fund other parts of the court service coming under fire from the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil). 

The changes would involve fees being increased to 5% for claims over £10,000, with a fee ceiling of £10,000 - the levy for a £200,000 claim. Fees for claims worth £10,000 or less would stay the same. 

Foil president Nick Parsons said: "Ready access to the courts should be a right for every citizen, not a privilege for those who can afford the entrance price."

Artificial intelligence move by legal business

In the research and development field, artificial intelligence will be applied to legal work under a partnership between Riverview Law and Liverpool University's computer science department. 

Riverview Law is working with the university in a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) to develop expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, text processing and data mining.

The firm's chief executive Karl Chapman told the Law Society Gazette he believes the results could revolutionise legal services. Last year Riverview set up a separate technology business to license software to in-house legal teams in large organisations. 

'Broad brush' approach paints a satisfactory picture

Elsewhere, legal experts who use conventional ways evaluating earnings in clinical negligence and personal injury cases face a greater risk of being challenged. 

They are more likely to have their opinions questioned in court if their estimates are based on 'broad brush, off the shelf data', rather than information specifically about the individual concerned, according to executive search firm Edward Drummond.

The firm says lifetime earnings calculations for specific individuals tend to be more successful than 'typical' examples. 

Dan Watts, a director at Edward Drummond, told Solicitors Journal that the Jackson reforms in April 2013 had brought traditional methods of calculating earnings under greater scrutiny from judges. 

Legal ombudsman faces challenge, says Law Society

Meanwhile, the legal ombudsman could struggle to get compensation for complainants after taking over responsibility for claims management companies (CMCs) in January. 

The warning comes from the Law Society, which agrees that the ombudsman's jurisdiction should be broadened, but believes differences between law firms and CMCs will hamper enforcement. 

In a letter to the MoJ, Law Society director of policy Mark Stobbs said: 'The unstable nature of the claims management market and lack of consumer protection means complainants may not receive compensation they are entitled to.' 

Road accident statistics are up on pre-Jackson figures

And finally, road accident claims in 2014 exceeded pre-Jackson reform figures, according to fresh research. 

The RTA Portal website shows 837,317 claim notification files were created last year - an increase of over 4,000 on the figure for 2012.

This was the last full year before the Jackson reforms were implemented, together with a ban on referral fees that aimed to reduce claims.