UK Government decision on post-EU scope of compulsory motor

On 21 February the DfT announced that the government intends to amend UK motor insurance law to remove all effects of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 in Vnuk vs Zararovalnica and in essence revert to compulsory insurance for approved road vehicles used on “a road or other public place” in the UK, as set down in the Road Traffic Act 1988. But the RTA applies in England & Wales and in Scotland only and nothing was said in the 21 February announcement in respect of the position in Northern Ireland. This written answer provided by DfT Roads Minister Rachel Maclean on 1 March confirms that any decision in this area would be a matter for the NI Executive.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

NI discount rate legislation published this week – Assembly debates to follow

The Bill to reset the legal basis of the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) in Northern Ireland was published this week following its introduction to the Assembly. As was expected, and as we tweeted yesterday, it’s a lift and shift from the approach in Scotland with one main change: a longer assumed investment period of 43 years rather than 30. The investment portfolio, however, is identical. We have said previously that all that can be taken from this, for the time being, is that had the NI PIDR been set using this approach at the same time as the Scottish rate was set at -0.75% – ie back in Q3 2019 – it might have been a little higher than that. How quickly the Bill (its home page is here) might proceed is both politically contentious (as set out in my last blog about it) and unclear. We may get a better idea of timescales from the second stage debate which is likely to take place next week and may at times be ‘robust’.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

Additional source material on whiplash reforms released on Friday

The Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and the Practice Direction (PD) for the whiplash and small claims reforms were released on Friday, just a day after the whiplash damages tariff was finalised. It is important to note that the new PAP – The RTA Small Claims PAP, available here – covers all road traffic injury claims which fall under the new small track limit of £5,000 (for the injury) and are subject to an overall maximum claim value of £10,000. It will be mandatory for qualifying claims to follow the new PAP procedures, which will be brought to operational life via the (OIC) Portal. 

We set out some early thoughts on the new RTA SCP below. We’ll be developing these views and presenting them in online briefings to be arranged over the new few weeks – please get in touch if you would like to be involved.

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