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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen

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General Election: What do the main political parties have planned for civil justice reform?

Client Alerts25/11/2019

As the manifestos are published, we look at where the policy focus lies...

Much like the previous General Election in 2017, 2019 was billed as a Brexit election when it was first called. Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU had passed one parliamentary stage, but an election was still deemed necessary to ensure it received complete approval and Brexit was able to go ahead.

The similarities with 2017 continue, however, as focus has quickly turned to other priorities.

The NHS, climate change and the rival spending commitments of each of the main parties have taken up much public attention since the election was called, as has the party leaders’ televised debate performances and the controversial opinions of many of their candidates.

In the past week we’ve seen each of the main political parties publish their General Election manifestos: sets of promises and a programme for Government should the British people elect them.

And with so many stunts, announcements, speeches, videos and viral content pieces out there, cutting through is a major challenge for all the political parties, and this seems to have shaped the manifestos this time around.

As much as possible, politicians are trying to bring public attention to their easy to understand vote winners, as opposed to small regulatory tweaks. The Conservative Party had their fingers burned by the heavy detail in their 2017 election manifesto, so have gone for a highly stripped back version this time around. Labour’s manifesto is far more detailed, with a focus on radical economic transformation and action to tackle climate change.

There is therefore little space in the manifestos for many of the civil justice issues preoccupying the insurance industry. Claims management companies, fixed recoverable costs, credit hire and young driver safety don’t get any attention, whilst whiplash and nuisance calls appear to be treated as an issue that has already been solved.

Whilst Labour have pledged action to help employees recover their legal costs in cases of negligence against their employer, this pledge is the exception rather than the rule for the manifestos, with the insurance industry and the issues it is focussed on not front and centre of the documents.

In some ways this may offer an opportunity post-election: with limited firm proposals for legislation the industry may be able to engage with the future government on a clean slate, and work with them to suggest beneficial policies. It may also mean that the government will focus on clearing the backlog of issues that are currently stuck somewhere in the echelons of government departments, waiting for when they are able to be given more time.

If this is the case, then despite a lack of focus on the industry from political parties now, it may be simply because political parties see their widespread vote winning policies in other areas, and will wait until they’re in power to consider where to go next on matters relating to civil justice reform.