This afternoon the House of Lords will debate the draft Whiplash Injury Regulations and related draft FCA rules. Both will take effect on 31 May 2021. The former sets the tariff for damages recoverable for whiplash injuries in which the symptoms last for less than 24 months – at significantly lower levels than the previous common law levels – and provide detail around the ban on settling whiplash claims without a medical report. The latter extends the powers of the FCA to police this ban.
The regulations will be passed by Peers – the enabling Act already has, back in 2018, and earlier versions of the tariff were available then – and in any event whiplash reform remains a government priority. In that regard, the MoJ’s recent robust response to criticism of the tariff is worth noting (at from page 4 here).
After this afternoon’s Lords debate the regulations will then pass to the Commons where they should be taken some in the early part of next month.
On 16 March the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee of the House of Lords reported on the recently-tabled Whiplash Injury Regulations which set tariffs for general damages for whiplash injuries with symptoms of up to two years’ duration. The statutory tariffs (made under powers in the Civil Liability Act 2018) are appreciably lower than common law awards to date have been. The Committee report notes criticisms of the tariff and of the overall RTA small claims scheme – both of which will take effect from 31 May this year – made by the solicitor’s group MASS but refers to a letter from the Ministry of Justice that meets those criticisms in full:
“The MoJ letter is a robust response that makes clear that these matters were fully debated during the passage of the 2018 Act and the issues were decided by Parliament. We note that illustrative tariff rates were available when the Bill was in progress, which we regard as best practice, and so the House was clear that it was agreeing to a substantial reduction in awards. We also note that the 2018 Act includes a number of provisions which require review of how this scheme operates and that it can be modified if unintended consequences are found.”
Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bill’s second reading in the Commons yesterday was book-ended by the speeches of the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor David Gauke and by junior justice minister Rory Stewart. In the intervening three and half hours the government flagged some important amendments it will make and the opposition set out the key elements of its argument against much of the whiplash reforms in particular. The body of this blog attempts to summarise the debate. Continue reading →