Out of COVID-19 lockdown and into new territory? QOCS is still coming to Scotland…

By Scottish Ministerial order, Qualified One-way Costs Shifting (QOCS) is to apply to Scottish personal injury claims – including disease claims and fatality claims – litigated from 30 June 2021. To recap, QOCS is a departure from the usual ‘loser pays’ approach to legal costs and expenses. The guiding principles of QOCS are (i) promoting access to justice in these types of case by generally protecting losing pursuers (hence ‘one way’) from having to meet successful defenders’ costs and (ii) at the same time enabling the removal of that protection in limited specific circumstances (hence ‘qualified’).

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NI discount rate: five weeks to submit evidence on the new Bill

As we reported last week, the Committee for Justice has today opened a new call for evidence (CE) seeking stakeholders’ views on the legislation designed to re-set the legal basis for the personal injury discount rate (PIDR), the Damages (Return on Investment) Bill. The terms of the six questions posed in the CE are clear and responses are due by 30 April 2021. Our views on the principles involved are unlikely to have changed since the pre-legislative consultation conducted last summer but the CE provides an important opportunity to make submissions on the points of detail involved in the new legal framework for setting the PIDR in Northern Ireland.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs
alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com

PIDR in NI: Committee for Justice opts for 28 October backstop for new Bill

Yesterday afternoon the Committee resolved to table a motion in the Assembly seeking to extend its scrutiny of the new personal injury discount rate (PIDR) legislation to Thursday 28 October. Assuming that is passed (which seems likely) then the passage of the Damages (Return on Investment) Bill looks unlikely to be concluded much, if at all, before the end of 2021. Add in after that up to 90 days for setting a rate under its provisions and it seems we are set for a second year of uncertainty on this important topic and ongoing difficulty in resolving those cases materially affected by the level of the PIDR.

Next week the Committee will formally call for written submissions on the Bill to be made before 30 April and will signpost the points on which it is seeking views. Following that, there might be an outside prospect of oral evidence sessions before the Assembly’s summer recess on 2 July but it might more realistic to work on the basis that those would be scheduled after the summer.

The Department of Justice had hoped to move very quickly with this Bill but it now seems all but certain that will not happen. As we reported here last week, it means that the next key development will therefore be the decision in the recently-heard judicial review proceedings which are challenging the Department’s approach of not setting an ‘interim’ PIDR while this Bill progresses.


Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs
alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com