Civil Liability Bill Latest
The Civil Liability Bill, part of the government’s package of measures aimed at reducing the number of whiplash and other personal injury claims, has cleared committee stages in the House of Lords largely unchanged, and now proceeds to Report, likely to be during June.
The Bill, which introduces a tariff system for minor RTA claims, and bans insurers from making so-called ‘pre-med’ offers, also includes plans to set up a special committee to decide the discount rate, a mechanism to calculate the level of compensation for catastrophic injuries.
Although the Bill has survived unscathed to date, the government, in the form of Lord Keen, Justice Minister and the Bill’s sponsor, has not had it all their own way. Peers from all sides have criticised the Bill for being ‘undercooked,’ and have taken the government to task for potentially leaving genuine claimants hung out to dry if the Bill becomes law.
The government’s critics in the Upper House were given strong support by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee (JSC), which published its long awaited report into whiplash on 17 May. The Committee, made up of MPs from the government benches, Labour and SNP, and chaired by the respected senior Tory Bob Neill MP, lacerated the MoJ and called for a halt to the entire reform programme until a proper assessment into the effects of LASPO (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) had been completed.
The Committee accused ministers of a proceeding on the basis of a poor evidence base, lack of detail on the plans to bring civil cases into the online world, and for ignoring the plight of genuine claimants who would be hugely disadvantaged by the new process.
Whether the Committee’s recommendations will persuade the government to think again will become clearer when the Bill is presented for Report. Parliamentarians are being heavily lobbied to urge a ministerial rethink, and there is plenty of time to make further changes to the Bill and the wider reform package, before it is implemented, probably at the back end of 2019.
In the meantime, credit hire companies may finally get to read the outcome of the second part of the MoJ’s consultation exercise, launched in 2016 and covering non-whiplash elements of the motor claims sector, including rehabilitation and credit hire. Rumours are that the consultation may be released before the Summer Recess, but as yet, there is no hint of how the government proposes to proceed.
For a full copy of the Justice Committee report, visit: