With no coach, no robes, no Duke of Edinburgh – and no majority Government – this was a very different Queen’s Speech. Although Brexit and national security were among its critical themes in a Parliamentary session that has been extended to last for two years rather than one, three Bills directly relevant to the general insurance sector were announced.
The above is hardly a title to inspire fans of JK Rowling’s most famous character. However, there is a strong link to her best-selling books about the boy wizard in the recent decision on appeal in the road accident claim Cameron v Hussain. The unexpected common feature is bringing legal proceedings against unidentified people.
In 2003, Ms Rowling’s publishers, Bloomsbury, successfully sought an injunction to prevent persons unknown from publishing one of the Harry Potter novels before its scheduled release. The basis of the court’s discretion to allow an action against persons unknown has been developed further in the intervening decade and half, albeit generally in the context of injunctions rather than actions for damages.
Yesterday the Government issued its latest consultation paper about the discount rate to be used for calculating future loss payments in personal injury cases. It has requested views by 11 May which can be fed in via the consultation home page.
The current law on the rate is that the Lord Chancellor sets it and has to follow the return on Index-linked Gilts (ILGS), which is presumed to indicate a risk-free approach to the investment of compensation. If this is going to change it will need legislation to change or repeal the Damages Act 1996 – a point which is confirmed in the Lord Chancellor’s written statement which accompanied the consultation.