In a blog post back in April, I highlighted what, at the time, was APIL’s latest research and publication in its campaign to broaden the scope of certain aspects of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
Although APIL’s report claimed around 70% public support for change, it now looks very much like that campaign has reached the end of the road and that reform is very unlikely in the medium term (at least). This is fairly clear from the brief but very direct reply issued yesterday by MoJ Minister Chis Philp. The question put to him and his response (with emphasis added in italics) are set out below.
Anna McMorrin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of bringing forward proposals to broaden the scope of claimants entitled to a bereavement award under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
Chris Philp: The Government considered the case for reform when responding to a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in February 2020. The Government believes that the existing system involving a fixed level of award and clear eligibility criteria represents a reasonable, proportionate and practical approach, and the Government does not currently have any plans for wider consultation on the bereavement damages regime or the Fatal Accidents Act more generally.
Written by Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at BLM
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.
The Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and the Practice Direction (PD) for the whiplash and small claims reforms were released on Friday, just a day after the whiplash damages tariff was finalised. It is important to note that the new PAP – The RTA Small Claims PAP, available here – covers all road traffic injury claims which fall under the new small track limit of £5,000 (for the injury) and are subject to an overall maximum claim value of £10,000. It will be mandatory for qualifying claims to follow the new PAP procedures, which will be brought to operational life via the www.officialinjuryclaim.org.uk (OIC) Portal.
We set out some early thoughts on the new RTA SCP below. We’ll be developing these views and presenting them in online briefings to be arranged over the new few weeks – please get in touch if you would like to be involved.