NI discount rate: further tension between Minister and Justice Committee over proposed legislation

At yesterday’s meeting of the Justice Committee of the NI Assembly it was reported that the Minister had obtained the agreement of the NI Executive to introduce the Damages (Return on Investment) Bill on 1 March. If passed at its second stage a week later it would then transfer to the Committee for scrutiny. The Minister proposed a ‘condensed’ Committee Stage of 21 days so that the legislation could be passed by the summer recess, which would enable a new rate to be set some time in the autumn. Her suggestion got fairly short shrift, meaning her timetable might be at some risk.

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Psychiatric injury claims: secondary victim cases head for the Court of Appeal

Two cases testing the legal control mechanisms on claims for psychiatric harm by secondary victims – those who directly observe injury caused to others close to them – are heading for the Court of Appeal later in the year. Although both are clinical negligence claims, if the outcome was to make any refinement to the control mechanisms there could be effects where secondary psychiatric harm arises in other settings, such as in road traffic or workplace accidents.

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Business interruption insurance: draft final order

The latest update from the FCA following the Supreme Court’s judgment last month includes a working draft of the order and declarations required to give practical effect to the decision. This text runs to 30 pages, nearly all of which has been agreed between the regulator and interested insurers. Yes, there are a few fine details on which the FCA and insurers differ but the regulator nevertheless expects that the Court will be able to finalise the declarations without another hearing. In addition, the FCA’s update yesterday repeats its clear view that “the judgment from the Supreme Court gives insurers the clarity they need to conclude their claims processes with the large majority of their BI customers, without waiting for the declarations.” In the context of the test case, the phrase “the large majority of their BI customers” should be understood as describing only those businesses with policies (or extensions) written using the wordings scrutinised by the Court. As the FCA put it last April in its Dear CEO letter to insurers, standard commercial policies did not generally provide this sort of BI cover: “our estimate is that most policies have basic cover, do not cover pandemics and therefore would be unlikely to pay out in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs