Credit hire: “a forensic war of attrition over an ever broadening front”

The jailing on 16 June of former employees of Autofocus for perjury with regard to credit hire evidence has been widely reported in the media. Just a few days later, Turner J opened his judgment of 19 June in Select Car Rentals v Esure with the typically pithy summary of the history of credit hire litigation which is used as the title to this piece. He went on to caution that while the Select case – which turned on costs issues alone – may have been “the most recent skirmish. It is not likely to be the last.” Quite.

That said, it seems there is now some judicial appetite to encourage key stakeholders in credit hire litigation to get together to seek to agree standard directions for evidence in these cases. That is shown by the Rule Committee issuing, this week, Consultation on The Model Order for Directions to be used in all Credit Hire cases which are “designed to encourage the proportionate and efficient resolution of the litigation and they must not be used as tactical staging posts in the action.” The consultation paper, only nine paragraphs long, firmly encourages stakeholders to “confer constructively to try to achieve a consensus or risk a solution being imposed”.

Although the detail of the proposed directions is interesting, what may be more relevant is, for me, the distinct tone of judicial exhortation to everyone to work collectively to put in place a far more efficient approach to narrowing not only the real issues in these claims but also how they are to be proved.

It is all too clear that this limited consultation is hardly going to mark the end of contested credit hire claims. What it might do, however, is to lower the heat in Turner J’s “forensic war of attrition” and, perhaps, stop the campaign from opening on other fronts.


ak Written by Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at BLM

Tackling the cost of car insurance for young drivers – Commons Committee session

On the same day this week that Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government would “progress urgently” to consult about the personal injury discount rate, the Petitions Committee, working jointly with the Transport Committee, heard evidence about the cost of car insurance for young drivers. The topic will be debated in Parliament after a petition calling for a £1,200 cap on the cost of car insurance for young drivers secured more than 180,000 signatures. The Parliamentary debate is scheduled for 20 March and it may be mere coincidence that this is the same date on which the statutory instrument bringing in the new negative discount rate is scheduled to take effect.

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April 2018 – a new coherent package for costs?

Sir Rupert Jackson’s pithy foreword to his 2009 review of costs described his reforms as “a coherent package” designed to control litigation costs in civil claims. Most aspects of that package were implemented in April 2013.

As noted already on this blog, Jackson is now conducting a further enquiry into widening the scope of fixed recoverable legal costs and is seeking evidence and views by mid January 2017. ‎His deadline more or less coincides with that set out in the Government’s latest ‘whiplash’ reforms – making for a busy Christmas and New Year for those of us working in this field.

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