Cycling UK has hailed a “victory for common sense” after the government announced today that cyclists will be exempted from legal reforms which could have affected their ability to claim compensation for injuries that were someone else’s fault.
The charity has campaigned for more than a year and a half for cyclists to be excluded from the proposed reforms, first announced by the government in December 2016, to raise the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000.
The measure is primarily aimed at curbing spurious whiplash claims from occupants of motor vehicles involved in a collision, something that costs the insurance industry millions of pounds every year.
By raising the small claims limit to £5,000, successful litigants would be unable to recover legal costs if awarded damages below that amount, compared to the £1,000 that currently applies.
But with an estimated 70 per cent of civil cases brought by cyclists who have been injured resulting in compensation below £5,000 being awarded, most would not have received the full amount due to having to pay their own compensation under the proposed reforms.
Today, during the second reading of the bill in the House of Commons as Parliament returned from recess, Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke confirmed that cyclists would not be subject to the new rules.
Other vulnerable road users such as horse riders, pedestrians and motorcyclists will likewise be exempt.
The small claims limit for them will however be raised to £,2,000, which Cycling UK highlights is above the £1,500 recommended by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee.
Duncan Dollimore, the charity’s head of campaigns, said: “Cycling UK is relieved the government has at last listened to reason and dropped plans to increase the small claims limit for vulnerable road users to £5,000. This is a victory for common sense and ensures the interests of victims are put first.
“Increasing the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 would have cheated pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists from full compensation after being injured on our roads.
“Common injuries including among these groups include fractured collarbones and wrists, all of which usually sit below the proposed £5,000 threshold.
However, if previous proposals had gone through, 70 per cent of vulnerable road users would have been prevented from recovering their legal costs even when someone else is to blame for their injuries.
“That’s neither fair nor right” he said, adding that with today’s announcement, “both balance and victims’ rights have been restored.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.