How might the December election affect the whiplash reforms?

The shortest, most accurate, answer is that we simply do not know.

The ‘purdah’ period before the election will see far fewer (if any) communications from civil servants about progress in building the IT platform and refining the policy. Key decisions were to be taken by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee in order to shape the necessary statutory instrument(s) and rules governing the overall scheme of whiplash reform (as outlined in part 1 of the Civil Liability Act 2018) and changes to the small claims track limit.

The present government’s long-stated aim has been to implement the reform package in April 2020. That timetable now looks to depend on broadly the same administration being returned following the December general election and on it re-adopting these reforms as a short to medium term priority.

The time available for the Rule Committee to work on the fine detail of the reforms looks quite limited. Its most recent communication (of 31 October 2019) tends to suggest that matters would ordinarily need to be resolved by early December to allow adequate time to introduce secondary regulations taking effect in April.

The next routine Statutory Instrument (SI) updating the CPR is anticipated to be laid before Parliament in February 2020 for commencement in April 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval. The contents of said SI and accompanying Practice Direction (PD) Update is not yet known, but usual practice would be that items for inclusion will be assembled from decisions made by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee at its meetings between July and December 2019 inclusive.

It is far from clear that whiplash-related matters will be fully resolved within this timescale, although we shall of course provide any further updates as and when available.


Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

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