Director of Market & Public Affairs
Justice Committee Inquiry: Raising the small claims limit
The Justice Committee today launched an inquiry into part of the Government’s whiplash reforms, to, as they state: “assist Parliamentary scrutiny of the Government’s proposals for raising the small claims limit for personal injury via secondary legislation”.
The inquiry is narrow; a link to the terms of reference can be found here. We don’t have much more detail at this stage, but Keoghs’ Market Affairs team has compiled some Q&As with their first thoughts on some of the wider questions that arise…
Why are the Justice Committee looking at this?
The Committee has decided to launch the inquiry most likely because it did not finish its previous one (looking into the now dropped Prisons and Courts Bill, which was the legislative vehicle for the aspects of whiplash reform requiring primary legislation). This was because of the snap general election earlier in the year and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament.
Does that mean that this is connected to the Civil Liability Bill?
On first glance, no. It is seemingly unconnected to the Bill as it concerns the proposed extension to the SCT and the role of CMCs and the BTE insurance market only. At present the Government do not intend to reform any of these areas through the Civil Liability Bill.
Needless to say, however, these provisions are very much embedded into the Government’s whiplash reform policy, part of which hinges upon the successful parliamentary passage of the Civil Liability Bill. It does not follow that this inquiry should delay the publication of the Bill, but this is something that needs to be monitored very carefully in coming weeks.
What happens now?
As stated in the announcement, the Committee will hold a one off evidence session. This is likely to be in January with the ABI, APIL and FOIL probably being asked to give oral evidence on that day along with the relevant Minister.
What about timescales?
Given the 22 December date for written submissions and the hearing of oral evidence “in the new year”, it is likely the Committee will publish its report in February or March, at the latest.
Will this delay matters for the MoJ’s work on secondary legislation and provisions surrounding litigants in person?
It shouldn’t do. Work on the MoJ whiplash reform programme is ongoing and there is no reason why it cannot continue throughout the Justice Committee’s inquiry. However, there may be some reluctance on the MoJ’s part to finalise matters until the Government is clear on where it stands following the publication of the Justice Committee’s report.