New legislative programmes expected in Westminster and Edinburgh

The decision to prorogue Parliament (Westminster) will lead to a ‘wash up’ of outstanding Bills, in which those which haven’t fully completed the legislative process are likely to be lost.

In reality, however, Parliamentary activity beyond Brexit has been pretty thin for the last few months, with very few unresolved Bills touching on civil litigation and insurance. One of passing interest is the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill which provides the necessary framework for moving some civil and family disputes to an online setting. Given that this important project has already had one legislative false start – via the Prison & Courts Bill which was ‘washed up’ before the 2017 general election – it is hoped that the current legislation can be fast tracked towards implementation in order to build on the extensive experience to date within the Online Civil Money Claims pilot scheme (at the end of May 2019 nearly 70,000 claims had been commenced via OCMC).

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Has the Chancellor revived the whiplash reform programme?

Yesterday’s budget marks just over two years since former Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his 2015 Autumn Statement, significant reforms to damages for whiplash claims and five-fold increase in the small claims limit for road traffic injury cases. Material released by the Treasury yesterday appears to indicate that Government expects to implement these reforms before April 2019.

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Three very different current Bills affecting general insurance are worth following, with each moving at its own pace

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill is well-advanced in the Lords – it gets a third reading today – and is due to get to the Commons early next year. It will move the regulation of the claims management sector from the Ministry of Justice to the Financial Conduct Authority; a measure likely to take effect well into 2018 or perhaps even later. It is also worth noting that the Government has committed to amending the Bill – when it gets to the Commons – in order to ban cold-calling for claims leads. While the overall approach is both necessary and sensible, getting there has taken far too long given that this regulatory tightening was first suggested in the March 2016 review of the claims management sector but won’t bite until at least three years after that. [Contrast that with the far quicker approach to tackling abuses in holiday sickness cases, where we expect fixed costs controls to kick in from April 2018.]

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