Whiplash: pre-registration begins

The ‘reveal’ yesterday of the website for the new whiplash claims service – with user registration opening at https://www.officialinjuryclaim.org.uk/ – marks the end of the near-total silence which fell over the reform programme before last month’s election and during the Christmas and New Year break. This doesn’t, of itself, mean that the proposed go-live date of 6 April 2020 is now beyond doubt, but I think it has become more likely as a consequence.

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Cross border claims: geographic limitation of cover or restriction of choice of jurisdiction?

A BLM case heard in the High Court last week involves significant questions of jurisdiction under the recast Brussels I Regulation (reg 1215/2012), certain of which had been aired in the recent cases of Lackey* and Cole*, which will be familiar to those involved in cross-border litigation. The novel question in the current case – probably of greatest interest to insurers – was whether a territorial scope clause in the policy between insurer and insured had the practical effect of barring the third party claimant from accessing the favourable jurisdiction options set out in section 3 of the regulation.

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Coffee, claims and the courts: an airline’s liability considered

In the mid-1990s, the litigation involving hot coffee served by McDonald’s in the USA acquired almost urban myth status. According to the key legal reference source that is Wikipedia, the “1994 product liability lawsuit became a flashpoint in the debate in the United States over tort reform” – which suggests to me that reports of the case would probably have ‘gone viral’ had social media been around at the time.

Much more recently, and in the very different settings of European air travel and the special legal regime of the Montreal Convention, the case of a passenger burned by hot coffee came before the Court of Justice of European Court (CJEU).  This is a serious case and far from an EU ‘bendy banana’ style scare story: the claimant was aged six at the time of the incident in which she suffered second degree burns.

The preliminary question for the court was whether the coffee spill was an “accident” for the purposes of the Montreal Convention, given that “accident” is the trigger for engaging an air carrier’s strict liability under the Convention.

In a detailed and principled judgment last month the CJEU held that this was an “accident”, dismissing the carrier’s argument that “accident” should be understood as relating to hazards typically associated with aviation rather than, say, food or drinks service.

Unsurprisingly, claims under the Convention are a specialist technical field.  My colleague Sandeep Aujla practices exclusively in the travel area and provides below her expert analysis of the case and its implications for the sector.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

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