There’s an often quoted piece of advice about never asking a question in court to which you don’t know the answer. The rationale given for this is to avoid the answer being not only a very unwelcome surprise but also something which fundamentally damages your arguments. That being the case, how to ask the question whether commercial insurance policies cover business interruption (BI) losses caused by restrictions due to COVID-19?
On 28 March the Public Bills Committee heard evidence from Brett Dixon, of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Rob Townend of Aviva and James Dalton of the Association of British Insurers. The context was legislative scrutiny of the whiplash measures to be found at part 5 of the Prison and Courts Bill currently proceeding in the Commons. Opening the evidence session, Sir Oliver Heald MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, asked this question: “In recent years, since 2005, we have seen a fall in the number of road accidents, we have seen safer vehicles and we have seen a more than 50% increase in whiplash-related claims. Can you put this in perspective and tell us what you think the problem is and whether you think our tariff system is going any way to solving it?”
On 7 February, the Justice Select Committee heard evidence from the Association of British Insurers represented by James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers represented by its President, Neil Sugarman into the proposed whiplash reforms set out in the Ministry of Justice’s consultation issued in November 2016.