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Citing public interest concerns, the Government has introduced a centralised system of instructing medical experts in whiplash cases.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) introduced the new system in response to a perceived mismatch between the decline in the number of road accidents and the increase in the number of whiplash claims. The new procedure requires personal injury solicitors to identify and instruct medical experts in such cases via an online portal that is administered by a private company on the MoJ's behalf.
A medical reporting organisation (MRO), which specialises in arranging medical reports for litigation, noticed an immediate falling off in its business on the introduction of the new regime. In mounting a judicial review challenge, the MRO argued that the design of the new system was seriously flawed and that its introduction was irrational and anti-competitive.
In dismissing the MRO's challenge, however, the High Court noted that the fact that the new system has adversely affected its business does not mean that it is irrational. The system does not prevent the MRO and others in the same position from developing their businesses and does not impinge unreasonably on the free market. The company administering the system is performing a regulatory role on behalf of the MoJ, which does not itself have any financial or economic interest in the market.