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.
David Cameron announced his resignation this morning, albeit postponed, following the vote by a majority of some four per cent of the UK electorate in favour of the UK leaving the EU. The outcome will have serious consequences for the economy and for the financial services sector. More narrowly, certain Government projects that relate to general insurance may, however, still be taken forward. While there may not now be le grand déblocage of initiatives that a remain vote would have precipitated, we could still see several stalled proposals re-starting before the summer recess.
- The scope of compulsory motor insurance across the EU – of which the UK is still a member, albeit now in the departure lounge – is currently being examined by the Commission. We expect the DfT to engage with stakeholders, including insurers, in the next few weeks to look at the options in detail. As we have already noted elsewhere, a modest amendment to the Directive in order to avoid the most troublesome unintended consequences of the Vnuk case looks the likeliest course.
- The insurance regime for autonomous vehicles also falls within DfT policy. Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP announced a month ago that there would be consultation on this “over the summer”. If his seasonal timing is rigorously observed, then we should expect the consultation to open, and probably close as well, in the three months between the summer solstice (21 June) and the autumnal equinox (22 September).
- How proposed reforms of whiplash and small claims might develop is less clear. The principles were outlined by Chancellor George Osborne in November but fall within the policy area of Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove. It is far from certain that either or both will remain in those positions come the autumn and indeed the Prime Minister, who was a champion of earlier claims reforms, this morning announced that he is to resign in the autumn. So very much watch this space on these particular proposals in the short to medium term. It is not entirely implausible that the Government could find these topics to be less of a pressing priority.
The Parliamentary session resumes on Monday 27 June for four weeks. Although the issues above are – given the gravity of the outcome of the referendum – hardly front and centre of national political debate, we nevertheless expect movement on most of them before the recess begins on 21 July.
About the Author
Alistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.
Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.
He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).