Whiplash Reform – Secondary Legislation
Last week’s announcement has given the Government some breathing room but there’s still plenty to do in Parliament before the new implementation date of 1 August.
The Government was finally able to put an end to weeks (perhaps months?) of rumour last week by announcing that its long-trailed whiplash reforms were not going to be implemented until 1 August.
Despite this update, it’s clear that there are still many questions to be answered. We discussed some of these last week, and attention will inevitably return to the various Parliamentary procedural steps required. These steps include:
Civil Procedure Rules Committee
The Government has promised “sufficient time” for industry to prepare for the changes. An MoJ spokesperson this week confirmed that 3 months will suffice (i.e. 1 May); the MoJ will, therefore, be looking for the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to show some outputs at the earliest possible opportunity. The committee meets this month and we would expect whiplash reform to be front and centre of its agenda.
Statutory Instruments – the affirmative resolution procedure
Parliament will also have a role in the process as the Government will need to lay a statutory instrument to introduce the tariff of damages for whiplash injuries. Once laid, this statutory instrument will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. This means that both Houses of Parliament technically need to endorse it for it to become law.
Although this might seem like a potential spanner in the works, the reality is that it is unlikely to be an issue. Statutory instruments are usually agreed without debate or vote, and it’s been 50 years since the last time that an SI requiring the affirmative resolution procedure was not approved by the House of Commons.
As always though the issue of timing might somehow sneak up again. Statutory Instruments usually take around 6 weeks to pass, which means that we would expect to see it laid before Parliament by 9 June at the latest in order to dodge the various Parliamentary recesses and secure implementation by 1 August.
That said, as we’ve spent the last year being reminded, any Parliamentary procedure is subject to events which dominate attention in Westminster. Although breaks for Brexit, prorogation and General Elections might seem like 2019’s trademark delays, there have been rumours (subsequently denied) that Parliament could close from Easter until September. Certainly one to watch!