Whiplash Reform Consultation: Part 2 Delayed

The much-delayed government response to Part 2 of the “Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (Whiplash) Claims Process Consultation” is going to be delayed for a while longer, at least until April 2021. That was the response of MoJ minister Alex Chalk MP to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Labour member of the Justice Select Committee Andy Slaughter MP. The full QA is attached to this update. Many members will recall the original consultation and the CHO’s response. While Part 1 focused on whiplash, Part 2 covered Credit Hire, Early Notification of Claims, Rehabilitation, Recoverability of disbursements; and Introducing a Barème type system.

At the time the government stated: “It is not minded to undertake reform immediately in these areas but will reflect carefully on responses to this consultation and decide how best to proceed. We would be very interested in views and supporting evidence from stakeholders.”

The CHO made a comprehensive submission, as did many other organisations (copy available from Ben Welsh for interested parties), but since the Consultation closed there has been not a whiff of white smoke. Representations were made to officials on many occasions, on the grounds that the consultation created uncertainty in the credit hire sector, which made investment and other strategic decisions more difficult, but at no time was there ever a clear sense that the government was about to publish its response.

Meanwhile, so much has changed within our industry since 2016, that the rationale for the consultation, and the evidence submitted in response to the various questions set out in the document, is ancient history.

The CHO has built more trusted relationships with external stakeholders, including regulators, officials and the media, to improve understanding of how credit hire works, and the legitimate role it has to play in mobility provision. It is also more apparent than ever before, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, that the claims value chain is closely interconnected.

Litigation is still an appropriate course of action if negotiation fails, but in a more interconnected world, it should be the exception, rather than the rule.

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when he plans to publish the second part of the Government’s response to the Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (whiplash) Claims Process consultation. [51720]

Alex Chalk (Cheltenham):The government announced on 21 April 2020 that work related to the implementation of the whiplash reforms in the Civil Liability Act 2018, and the raising of the small claims limit for road traffic accident claims, has been paused and the implementation timetable moved to April 2021. This will enable the personal injury sector to focus on delivering their response to Covid-19, as well as allowing the government to focus on providing key justice services.
Implementing these reforms in April 2021 will remain the Government’s priority. We are aware of the continued interest in the issues raised in Part 2 of the ‘Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (Whiplash) Claims Process’ consultation paper and will be considering our response to that consultation after the April 2021 implementation.