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Whiplash reforms pushed back a month…and a new MOJ civil justice minister

Client Alerts11/01/2021

The Justice Secretary has just announced that there will be a slight delay to the reforms, pushing them back from April 2021 to May 2021. There has also, in recent days, been an ennobling of a high-profile lawyer to the civil justice portfolio.

Whiplash reforms implementation

The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has made a statement to the House of Commons today confirming a short delay to the whiplash reforms to May 2021: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-01-11/hcws693

Mr Buckland confirms that the Government remains committed to the implementation of the reforms but also acknowledges the challenges experienced by all this year in the face of the pandemic. Given the concerns raised by stakeholders about timescales required for industry preparedness, he has decided to allow an additional short period of time before launch.

This may be connected to the timing of the extraordinary meeting of the CPRC on 22 January; 3 months after that would expire on 22 April and various processes/announcements would be required after that meeting. One more month would give the MOJ/MIB/CPRC a little more time to confirm all of the necessary details before the clock starts ticking.

New MOJ minister: Mr David Wolfson QC

Ennobling a high-profile lawyer to replace Lord Keen and manage the Government’s relationship with the legal profession, is, in itself, an outward signal of the importance that is placed on it.

The introduction of David Wolfson QC (now Lord Wolfson of Tredegar) to the House of Lords on 7th January, and his appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, marks a continuation of the Government’s aim to have those with experience of the legal world managing the Government’s relationship with them. Prior to his new role, Lord Wolfson practised commercial law at One Essex Court, and won multiple awards including Commercial Litigation Silk of the Year 2020 at both the Legal 500 and the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2020.

He takes the reins on a job that had been vacant for some months following the resignation of Lord Keen. With the implementation date for these reforms a mere four months away, the parliamentary and procedural necessities for this will no doubt be at the top of his in-tray. He will, however, likely be pleased that he needn’t worry about the complications of the Advocate General for Scotland role alongside his MoJ responsibilities (as his predecessor did), as this role has now been split and will be taken by Keith Stewart QC.

The Keoghs Market Affairs team will seek to engage with the new Junior Minister throughout 2021 and beyond.