Civil Liability Bill – yet more amendments tabled and a new call for evidence

Further opposition amendments to the Bill have been published. As indicated yesterday, the prospects of these being carried may not be high and indeed several might be regarded as probing amendments designed to secure explanations and clarifications from government. For completeness, the thrust of the amendments is set out in the body of this article.

In addition to the new amendments, a public call for evidence has also opened. The period for responses will end either on 9 October (the deadline set for the Committee stage) or on the day when the Committee’s consideration of the Bill finishes, if that is earlier. Details here.

The new amendments (7 September) tabled by Labour MPs attempt to make the following changes, some of which overlap and/or are alternatives to each other.

  • To require the Chief Medical Office rather than the Lord Chancellor to set the definition of whiplash injuries.
  • To exclude injuries suffered while driving/travelling during the course employment from the reforms.
  • To exempt vulnerable road users and those injured during the course of their employment from the whiplash reforms, other than the ban on pre-medical offers.
  • To reduce any whiplash tariff to symptoms of less than 12, rather than 24, months’ duration.
  • To require the Lord Chief Justice to be consulted about any tariff and / or for the tariff to be replaced with Judicial College Guideline figures.
  • To give judges greater flexibility to increase tariff levels in particular cases.
  • To put the requirement from reports from MedCo on the face of the Bill.
  • To allow recovery of legal costs for advice on quantum and liability (if disputed) in motor claims in the small claims track.
  • To restrict the level of the (motor) small claims track to an inflation-only increase in claims involving vulnerable road users and to limit the increase in the small track for those injured during the course of their employment to inflationary steps of £500 only.
  • To require annual reports from insurers (to the FCA) on savings realised from the whiplash reforms and if necessary to give the FCA powers to enforce the passing on of savings.
  • To reinstate the involvement of the expert panel in the first setting of the discount rate under part 2 of the Bill and for it (the panel) to set the rate rather than the Lord Chancellor.
  • To require the Civil Justice Council to review and report, within two years, on the effect of part 2 of the Bill on the making of periodical payment orders.

Authored by Alistair Kinley, director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs

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