Discount rate judicial review hearing

Damages Act 1996 – ABI’s judicial review of Lord Chancellor’s decision to set a discount rate by 31 January 2017 – decision expected on Friday 20 January

The Lord Chancellor had explained in a statement issued on 7 December that she would announce her decision about the discount rate for calculating pecuniary future losses in personal injury claims by 31 January. Within a fortnight of that, ABI indicated that it would challenge that by way of judicial review. The hearing on permission and interim relief took place today, 19 January.

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The Lord Chief Justice says…

We see but a part of the UK’s Justice system and are quick to complain about its shortcomings but the challenges are not always obvious nor the competing demands of other areas of the law.

A quick skim of this year’s report from our most senior judge, which can be accessed here, is informative. UK Justice is a great export with this country often being the jurisdiction of choice. Many other jurisdictions would welcome the accountability and independence of the UK judicial process and as we reflect on further reforms and change (Briggs – online Courts; Jackson – extending fixed costs and of course MoJ on whiplash and small claims) we should step back and remember that they cannot be viewed in isolation.

The rule of law is one of the great pillars of our system (and it does involve reminding / telling Government that it has got things wrong – from time to time) and as we respond to these consultations we should do so constructively: it may not be perfect but it’s not bad and we have a responsibility to make it better – all of it.

Terry Renouf, partner, BLM

Written by Terry Renouf, consultant, BLM

Mesothelioma legislation on the move?

On 2nd June Lord Alton reintroduced a Bill to attempt to impose a statutory levy on insurers to fund clinical research into the treatment of mesothelioma.

The Mesothelioma (Amendment) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Lords by Lib Dem peer Lord David Alton. He was formerly an MP in the Liverpool area and has a strong interest in mesothelioma and asbestos diseases generally which very likely stems from experiences of constituents who had contracted such conditions. In 2011/12, Lord Alton instigated discussion in the House of Lords aimed at preserving the recovery of success fees and insurance premiums in mesothelioma claims. That led to the Government conceding the point and setting it out clearly in section 48 of the LASPO Act 2012.

The new Bill is a re-tread of identical proposals he had tabled in the last Parliament. At present, it seems quite unlikely that it will pass into law.

However, if the new Bill is debated in earnest in the Lords, those proceedings could provide some indication of whether the new administration has any appetite whatsoever to legislate in this field. For example, section 48 may well be brought to an end in due course. The previous Government had attempted to do this but lost a judicial review brought against its proposals and thus, for the time being at least, mesothelioma claims are still subject to the recovery of success fees and insurance premiums from paying parties (defendants). It follows from that that these cases should not, for as long as success fees remain recoverable, be subject to the ten percent increase in general damages brought about by the Court of Appeal’s decision in Simmons v Castle.

About the Author

akAlistair 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).