Today’s written statement from the Lord Chancellor indicates that the whiplash reform programme is being delayed by a further month, with implementation now expected in May 2021. His statement begins “The Government remains firmly committed to ….” which, for me, set up expectation of a ‘but’ or ‘however’ later in the piece. Predictably, that comes a few paragraphs in when he says “I do however acknowledge the challenges experienced by all this year in the face of the pandemic.” The Minister offers this, and the need for industry preparedness, as reasons for allowing a delay of a month – “an additional short period of time” – to the implementation plan.
The statement refers to work with the Civil Procedure Rules [sic] Committee and to the “excellent progress” made by the MIB in building the Official Injury Claim platform. It concludes with a confirmation that the reforms remain “a key government priority” and indicates that the one month delay is “a sensible and pragmatic approach to take in order to achieve successful and effective implementation.”
Whether it is realistic to describe undelivered policy proposals dating back to autumn 2015 in such terms may be arguable, but it seems less open to dispute that all parts of the industry would be in a far better position to prepare sensibly, pragmatically, successfully and effectively for these reforms, had the Minister actually released finalised rules and protocols today rather than issuing yet another statement seeking to explain away the latest delay.