Whiplash reforms encounter further delays

The UK parliament viewed over a bridge with fast-moving traffic

The second reading of the Civil Liability Bill may be pushed back to September, once parliament has held its summer recess.

The bill aims to implement a new whiplash tariff and reform how the Ogden discount rate is set.

However it has not yet been assigned to a day on the order paper for July business, seen by Post.

“The Speaker has not yet considered this bill for certification,” the notes read.

MPs will break for summer after 24 July and will return to the Commons on 4 September, meaning it could be autumn by the time the bill gets a second reading.

The government has been accused by lawyers of taking a ‘sledgehammer approach’ with the bill. 

The controversial bill passed through the House of Lords last Friday. The next step of the process will see MPs debate on the amendments proposed by the lords.

If a consensus cannot be reached then the bill could continue to be passed back and forth between the two houses.

Push for reform

The Association of British Insurers has vowed to continue the push for reform in the interim period.

A spokesperson for the ABI told Post: “So far as we are concerned, the need for change is as compelling as ever. The arguments that we have been putting forward for some time now, we will continue to push. These include the need for a modernised small claims limit system, which hasn’t been changed since 1991, the fact that we have a system where legal costs are excessive, and a system that has been exploited by some claims management companies.

“We will continue to push for and support these much needed, long-overdue changes to create a system that is fair for claimants and to all taxpayers, compensators and the motoring public.

“There will be no letup in our push for reforms to ensure that we get a fairer system for claimants, motorists and taxpayers alike.”

No let up

Those in opposition to the reforms, such as lobbying group Access to Justice, will also keep the pressure on.

Access to Justice spokesperson Andrew Twambley said: “Given these reforms were first announced in November 2015, we have faced nearly three years of uncertainty. It is evident from government claims data that whiplash claims and the cost of whiplash claims are now falling rapidly, and the longer the government delays, the clearer it becomes that the market is doing its job for it. 

“What is also becoming clear is that implementing a new online claims process for litigants in person is hugely complex, especially for cases where liability is denied, and may eventually cost more than the savings the reforms are meant to achieve. Proponents of reform are so fixated on removing lawyers from doing their job that they have failed to foresee the problems that will be created for injured claimants if these reforms ever see the light of day.”

He added: “We hope to use these next few months to point out to ministers that there are better ways - such as the recommendations in the Justice Select Committee whiplash report - to strike the right balance between reducing frivolous claims and making sure injured people continue to have protection.”

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