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.
On 28 March the Public Bills Committee heard evidence from Brett Dixon, of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Rob Townend of Aviva and James Dalton of the Association of British Insurers. The context was legislative scrutiny of the whiplash measures to be found at part 5 of the Prison and Courts Bill currently proceeding in the Commons. Opening the evidence session, Sir Oliver Heald MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, asked this question: “In recent years, since 2005, we have seen a fall in the number of road accidents, we have seen safer vehicles and we have seen a more than 50% increase in whiplash-related claims. Can you put this in perspective and tell us what you think the problem is and whether you think our tariff system is going any way to solving it?”
In a blog earlier today we noted that measures to address “whiplash” are to be included in the Prison and Courts Bill published today.
Indeed Part 5 of the Bill, which has just been published, is simply headed “WHIPLASH” (the capitals are from the Bill itself). The content of part 5 stretches across pages 59 -65 of the Bill but despite the length of the clauses included there, it should be noted that a great deal of the detail will be left to regulation.