Further clues about the discount rate?

Just after the election result in a blog dated 9 June I referred to “a much-changed form of political calculus” because of the hung Parliament. A subsequent piece suggested that the Queen’s Speech – passed in the Commons yesterday, 29 June – might offer a clue about legislation on the personal injuries discount rate. Some recent Government developments seem to connect both those comments and are explained in the body of this post.

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Does the dressed-down Queen’s Speech hide a reference to changing the discount rate?

With no coach, no robes, no Duke of Edinburgh – and no majority Government – this was a very different Queen’s Speech. Although Brexit and national security were among its critical themes in a Parliamentary session that has been extended to last for two years rather than one, three Bills directly relevant to the general insurance sector were announced.

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Reflecting on the Queen’s Speech

The latest piece on our RED blog (here) looks at the announcement, in the Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016, of new insurance-related legislation to facilitate the development of autonomous/driverless vehicles.

The Queen’s Speech also referred proposals to bring forward a British Bill of Rights, which, if it happens, would fulfil the Government’s May 2015 manifesto commitment to repeal and replace the Human Rights Act 1998. Any new legislation in this area could be the vehicle by which Ministers tackle what they perceive as being opportunist claims against the Armed Forces pursued under the HRA and other provisions.

Delivery of the Government’s legislative programme – and, perhaps, the security of Prime Minister’s position – depends to a great extent on the result of the European referendum which will be held on 23 June. Indeed, the leader column of The Times on 19 May pointed out that “Everything Mr Cameron wants to do is contingent on a return to business as usual after June 23, but even then he would have to live with a thin majority, angry Eurosceptic backbenchers, a rebellious House of Lords and a record of U-turning that is beginning to look like habit.”

There was nothing in the Queen’s Speech that would offer a clue as to how the Government would proceed to deliver the reforms to personal injury claims set out by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement some six months ago. It seems increasingly unlikely that we will see any movement on these measures this side of the June referendum, although it is worth pointing out that Justice Minister Lord Faulks QC was at pains to repeat the Government’s commitment to the reforms when he addressed the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ annual conference just two weeks ago.


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).