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Samantha Ramen

Samantha Ramen

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Whiplash reform: Is the picture getting any clearer?

Client Alerts20/11/2020

Andy Slaughter MP has seen several more questions on whiplash reform answered this week. Along with other developments in the industry, what more do we now know about the reform timetable?

Discovering information on the whiplash reforms has been a bit like following a trail of breadcrumbs over the last few months as small bits of information become available through a variety of sources.

This week saw Andy Slaughter MP once again determined to move things forward. The following Parliamentary Questions were tabled, with answers due last week. These were answered yesterday: 

Question

Answer

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when he plans to publish a final proposed tariff for compensation for whiplash injuries.

The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 will include the tariff for compensation for whiplash injuries and will be published in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to section 3(11) of the Civil Liability Act 2018, what consultation has taken place with the Lord Chief Justice about the proposed tariff for compensation for whiplash injuries; and if he will publish the details of that consultation.

A consultation is currently underway with the Lord Chief Justice as required by section 3 paragraph (11) of the Civil Liability Act 2018. We will carefully consider the response received and will publish details of the tariff of damages.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 28 October 2020 to Question 106239 on Civil Proceedings, if he will publish details of the new accessible bespoke court process which will be used to settle disputes in cases made through the Official Injury Claims portal.

The Government will publish details of its new accessible bespoke court process alongside the new Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-action Protocol in due course.

It’s fair to say that these answers tell us very little! But what else do we know? Some snippets we have picked up are:

  • The Civil Procedure Rule Committee issued the minutes from its meeting of the 9th October. This set out some ongoing challenges but nevertheless it was confirmed that Ministers have instructed officials to continue to work towards an implementation date of April 2021.
  • The MIB issued its latest programme update on the whiplash reforms to stakeholders yesterday. This outlined its work on pre-launch consumer testing of the Official Injury Claim portal and its preparation for launch in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice. It also confirmed that the portal service is 85% complete.
  • The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) urged the Government to conduct a review of the proposed tariff of damages, calling the process “fundamentally flawed” in a post on its website. The group suggested that the tariff of damages needs revision to “better reflect judicial awards based upon pain and suffering”.

Keoghs Viewpoint

The PQ responses were issued a week later than they were due but yet were distinctly unrevealing. This latest in the trail of breadcrumbs advises the insurance industry to continue to wait and see, with the Civil Procedure Rules, Pre-action Protocol, and tariff for consultation outcomes all due to be issued in “due course”.

With the end of the year approaching, “due course” is probably going to have to arrive within a matter of weeks to enable insurers to have sufficient time to prepare for the stated April 2021 launch.