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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Scottish Discount Rate and PPO Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament

Today, the Bill to amend Scots Law on the Personal Injury Discount Rate and also to enable Scottish courts to impose Periodical Payment Orders when making an award of damages in personal injury cases has been published by the Scottish Parliament. Continue reading

Where next for claims management regulation?

On 4 June, the Westminster Legal Policy Forum held an event: “The future of the claims management sector – regulation, standards and growth”. Lord Hunt of the Wirral chaired the first session. He said he was lucky to be attending because, according to an unsolicited phone call received from a CMC, he had been involved in an accident in which he had been injured.

There were two keynote speakers: Kevin Rousell, Head of Claims Management Regulation (CMR) at the Ministry of Justice and Crispin Passmore of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Kevin Rousell set out the four main compliance priorities in relation to Claims Management Companies for the CMR in 2015:

  1. Nuisance calls – unsolicited contact by telephone or text message.
  2. Financial products & services – evidence that there is a lack of diligence in submitting claims.
  3. Personal injury claims – ‘crash for cash’ and fraud.
  4. Unauthorised activities – non authorised CMCs working ‘underground’.

About 1,600 CMCs dealing with personal injury claims had left the sector in the past two years, probably because of LASPO and tighter regulation. The long-term aim was for Government to continue its drive towards deregulation and for CMCs to self-regulate. Until such time, however, this area of work is certainly being taken seriously by the MoJ, with 110 staff employed across the CMR team. Its annual report for 2014/15 is due to be published in July.

Crispin Passmore talked about referral fees and was concerned that these should not be dressed up [by unscrupulous companies] as something different to get round the ban. He also mentioned fairly widespread concerns with regard to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims but added that the SRA had only 50 cases relating to NHIL reported to it from January 2013 to March 2015.

A speaker from the Financial Ombudsman Service said that at their peak, complaints received had reached 15,000 per week. That had since reduced to around 4,000. It appeared that complaints about packaged / bundled bank accounts were also now being made. The Legal Ombudsman had been investigating complaints about CMCs since January 2015. The two areas of greatest concern were complaints about the level of fee information and updating on progress of claims. It was reported that one individual had been involved in 148 CMCs, including liquidating and then re-starting some outfits.

A timely event that showed that cracking down nuisance calls is finally being taken seriously by regulators. We will revisit these issues when the MoJ’s CMR report is publish in a few weeks.

About the author

Jef Mitchell is a consultant at BLM and former Chief Claims Officer at the Ministry of Defence where he regularly briefed Ministers on claims issues and risk management. He now helps to lead the firm’s Policy and Government Affairs work with Alistair Kinley preparing submissions and supporting evidence for consultations and reform proposals, in addition to liaising with government departments and regulators on key issues and consultations affecting the firm and its clients. Jef is also an accredited mediator.