As anticipated in yesterday’s blog about the Bill’s second reading, various amendments from the government and oppositon have now been published. These will be debated next week, in Committee stages scheduled for 11 and 13 September. Both sets of amendments address the whiplash reforms in part 1 of the Bill and don’t touch* on the discount rate measures in part 2, which seems to be a clear sign that it is far less politically-charged than whiplash.
The principal government amendment is designed so that insurers report on savings arising from the reforms the Bill introduces. It does this by giving ministers powers (which are set out in a good deal of detail) to make regulations requiring insurers to provide relevant information to the FCA, which would then assist the Treasury in preparing a one-off report to Parliament. The amendment stipulates that such a report must be submitted by April 2025 (the wording is “before the end of a period of one year beginning with 1 April 2024”) and will cover the three year period from 1 April 2020. This date should therefore be regarded as the implementation date for the whiplash reforms in part 1 of the Bill.
A further government amendment provides that the Lord Chief Justice must be consulted before ministers make regulations setting out the damages tariff for whiplash injuries.
The opposition’s main amendments reflect its stance against the whiplash reforms and seek to remove all the clauses of the Bill which deal with the government’s proposed damages tariff. It has also tabled an amendment that attempts to restrict the increase in the small claims limit for whiplash claims to an inflation-based calculation rather than the £5,000 figure proposed by the government.
The goverment’s latest amendments can be seen as concessions made due to concerns raised in the Lords and again this week in the Commons. It seems very likely indeed that they will be carried. On the other hand, it is quite difficult to see the oppositon’s proposals getting through given that they would effectively jettison critical parts of the reform programme.
[* Other than to the extent that the proposed report on savings will include any savings due to a new discount rate.]
Posted by Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs