The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have recently published new rules and qualifying criteria for companies who want to join Medco, the panel of medical experts instructed to diagnose soft-tissue injuries, and the Law Society have come out in support of this decision.
How Did Medco Affect Personal Injury?
In a radical change to the Personal Injury industry, the Medco system was established in 2015 to regulate the sourcing of medical reports in soft tissue injury claims. The system was designed to modify the relationship which had developed between solicitors firms and the medical experts they instructed in such cases. The new criteria published by MOJ are designed to eliminate ‘shell companies’ from abusing the scheme.
The Changes in Criteria
Medco provides solicitors with a choice of two first tier, and ten second tier options when choosing a medical expert for their claimant. In a bid to appear more frequently in these lists, some medical reporting agencies (MRO) registered a large number of companies before the application deadline. Over 130 ‘shell companies’ are due to be expelled from the Medco application process under these new rules.
A Law Society spokesperson said: 'We broadly welcome the new qualifying criteria, which will help to tackle any residual abuse of the Medco system. Firms, individual solicitors and accredited medical experts all have to register with MedCo and this ensures they comply with the qualifying criteria set by the MoJ.
The system was a huge shakeup of the PI industry and is unmistakably contributing to a decrease in whiplash fees with considerable savings being made. Law Society is keen to point out to the Government that for this reason, it is not necessary therefore to implement plans to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5000 or to stop general damages for minor soft tissue injuries. The controversial proposals set out by George Osborne could have a devastating impact on ordinary citizens seeking to assert their legal rights, leaving thousands of potentially genuine claimants without legal advice, representation or proper recourse.