Civil Liability Act 2018 and associated reforms: implementation update

Regrettably, this is not a comprehensive update on the whiplash and small claims reforms that are due to be implemented in just over a year. The title is, however, the heading used by Justice Minister Lord Keen in a recent letter about these reforms to the Justice Select Committee.

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Civil Liability Bill – “a technical argument between the insurance lobbyists and the legal services lobbyists”

This title was one MP’s description of the Bill’s provisions (the whiplash reforms, in the main) during yesterday’s long and highly polarised debates on report and third reading of the Bill. The Bill was passed without further amendment (save for a minor linguistic tweak by the Government) by a healthy Government majority of 56. It now passes to the Lords for approval of earlier Commons amendments after which it should receive Royal Assent, which could happen in the coming weeks and before the end of the year.

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Does a decision change the law if it turns on its own facts?

The orthodox answer to this question is no, on the basis that it is the peculiarities of the facts which give rise to the outcome, rather than any new legal approach. In two decisions this week in the tort of negligence, the clinical claim Darnley in the Supreme Court and the vicarious liability claim Bellman in the Court of Appeal, the higher Courts worked from the initial findings of fact and applied the existing law to them to drive different outcomes from those reached in the courts below.

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