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Looking ahead

January 2017

2017 began with the deadline on 6 January, for responses to the Government's whiplash consultation followed shortly afterwards by a parliamentary debate on Access to Justice.  Submissions were due two weeks later for Lord Justice Jackson's review of fixed costs but, no doubt alive to the short time available to regroup, he allowed a further extension of the deadline to 30 January.

On 17 January, Justice Minister Oliver Heald QC announced the long awaited review of LASPO at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid. Whilst mainly of interest to legal aid practitioners, it will be recalled that the review of LASPO is also due to include consideration of the ongoing recoverability of additional liabilities in mesothelioma claims.

In a hearing on 19 January, the ABI sought permission to bring a Judicial Review and for interim relief in relation to the Lord Chancellor's decision to announce the outcome of her review of the discount rate. Permission was refused and the ABI said it would appeal, but time is now short before the Lord Chancellor is due to announce her decision on 31 January. Last night it emerged that permission to appeal has been refused and in breaking news this morning the Lord Chancellor has released a further statement to the LSE saying that the review "has taken longer than anticipated" but that "the Lord Chancellor remains committed to making an announcement in February." 

Finally, the Supreme Court handed down its highly anticipated but not entirely surprising judgment in the Article 50 'Brexit' appeal. By a majority of 8:3 it was held that an Act of Parliament is needed before Article 50 can be triggered and today (26 January), the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has been presented.

Further details can be found below along with developments on:

• Appeals and judgments to watch out for
• Government response to the Driverless Technology consultation
• 2016/17 levy for the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme
• The new Untraced Drivers' Agreement from the MIB

Forthcoming cases

Supreme Court

Update - Disability discrimination: busesFirstGroup Plc v Paulley concerns the Equality Act 2010 and the reasonable adjustments a bus company is required to make in order to accommodate disabled wheelchair users. In a judgment handed down on 18 January the Justices held that the bus company should do more to encourage passengers to move for wheelchair users.

Update – Brexit: Art 50 notice.  Judgment was handed down in R (on the application of Miller & Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 24 January and it was held (by majority of 8:3) that an Act of Parliament is needed before Article 50 can be triggered. Read more on the web page where the Supreme Court has published a range of information and updates on the case.

Insurance: professional indemnity. Permission to appeal was granted in AIG Europe v Woodman & Anor (aka AIG v OC320301 LLP) in July and an expedited hearing took place on 10 October. The issue is the true construction of the words "in a series of related matters or transactions" within the aggregation clause of a professional indemnity insurance policy. Read more in our article on April’s Court of Appeal decision.

Professional negligence: accountants. The issue in Swynson Ltd v Lowick Rose is whether the Court of Appeal erred in law in holding that a lender could recover damages from its negligent adviser representing loans that had been repaid by the borrower, on the basis that the borrower's repayments were collateral to (or res inter alios acta) the adviser's breach of contract. A hearing took place between 21 and 24 November. Read more in our article on last year’s Court of Appeal decision.

Inheritance Act disputes: wills. The Court of Appeal in Ilott v Mitson considered the rules on reasonable provisions in wills for adult children. In this instance an estranged daughter claimed that her mother’s will, which left the majority of her estate to three charities, failed to make reasonable financial provision for her. The hearing of the charities’ appeal took place on 12 December. Read more in our article on last year’s Court of Appeal decision commenting on the implications for will drafting.

Professional negligence: solicitors. The case of BPE Solicitors v Hughes-Holland (aka Gabriel v Little) considers the scope of solicitors’ duties where losses relate to commercial risks. The appeal was heard on 14 & 15 December.

Non-delegable duties: foster carers. The case of NA v Nottinghamshire County Council concerning the abuse of a child by foster parents and the duties owed by local authorities in those circumstances is listed for 8 & 9 February 2017.

Update –  Personal injury: cross border claims. The appeal in Mapfre Mutualidad Compania De Seguros Y Reaseguros SA & Anor v Keefe on whether a Spanish insured can be joined into the English proceedings already brought against the Spanish insurer, has been listed for 7 March 2017.

New – Police: human rights. In Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v DSD & Anor, concerning the "black cab rapist" John Worboys, the Court of Appeal upheld a first instance decision that the failure of the Met Police to carry out effective investigations into the victims' complaints amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR. The Met Police are appealing and the hearing will take place on 14 March 2017.

Supreme Court cases awaiting developments. We await further official details for a number of cases where permission to appeal has been granted:

  • Brownlie v Four Seasons Holidays Inc involving jurisdiction issues arising out of a fatal accident claim.

  • Gavin Edmondson v Haven Insurance which concerns an insurer engaging directly with claimants to conclude their claims which had been commenced in the Portal.

  • Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police which concerns the issue of liability of the police in negligence following an incident in which the claimant was injured when she became caught up in the arrest of a drug dealer. 

  • Steel v NRAM PLC is a Scottish solicitors’ negligence case concerning negligent misstatements and the existence of a duty of care in a relation to a security transaction.

Court of Appeal

Update - Catastrophic injury: accommodation; costs. The claimant in Manna v Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust suffered severe brain damage at the time of his birth. Liability was agreed and judgment entered for 50% of the full value of the claim. At first instance the court allowed two Roberts v Johnstone awards for the homes of the claimant’s separated parents. The appeal took place in December and in a judgment handed down on 18 January the Court of Appeal upheld the award for the additional home. Whilst the Roberts v Johnstone principle was not directly challenged Tomlinson LJ did acknowledge that the approach was "imperfect but pragmatic."

Update – Insurance: policy interpretation. Judgment was handed down on 12 January 2017 in the case of Maccaferri Ltd v Zurich Insurance Plc. The Court of Appeal upheld the first instance decision in which the insured obtained a declaration that its insurers were obliged to provide indemnity for a claim following an incident with a staple gun resulting in a serious eye injury. Zurich had argued that the insured had failed to comply with a condition precedent to give written notice “as soon as possible” after the event but the court rejected the insurer's interpretation of the phrase. 

Professional negligence: solicitors. At first instance in Williams v HCB Solicitors the defendant obtained summary judgment against a claimant who claimed to have lost a business opportunity as a result of their solicitors’ negligence.  An appeal was heard on 17 January 2017. Judgment is awaited.

Pre-action disclosure: fixed costs. FOIL has reported on an appeal decision in Sharp v Leeds City Council in which HHJ Saffman has held that fixed costs applied in a PAD application.The appeal took place on 24 January 2017 before a panel including Jackson LJ and Briggs LJ and judgment is being handed down on 1 February 2017.

Update – Personal injury: quantum. In Mazo v Boyle (The Westbourne) the claimant suffered a broken wrist after tripping over a rope in a pub and claimed damages of over £4.2 million. She was appealing after being awarded £156,871.82 at trial. The appeal was due to take place on 6/7 February 2017 but the hearing has been vacated. We do not have further details but the Court of Appeal case tracker notes that the case has been given a final judgment.

Motor liability: pedestrian children. In AB v Main a car collided with children who had been playing at the side of the road but then moved into the road. The driver was held liable with a 20% discount for contributory negligence. The defendant's appeal of the finding on primary liability was due to take place on 15/16 February 2017 but the hearing has been vacated as a settlement was reached.

Credit hire: rates evidence. On 21/22 February 2017, the Court of Appeal will hear appeals in two important credit hire cases in respect of rates evidence and the approach that a court should take in the event that the rates evidence does not reflect the claimant’s case. Clayton v EUI Ltd and McBride v UK Insurance Ltd. 

Portal claims: £400 club. In April 2016 there were press reports of a decision in the Cardiff County Court in which the judge ordered reimbursement of pre 2013 stage 1 costs paid by insurers after an admission of liability, but following which the cases did not proceed to stage 2. The judge granted a leapfrog appeal in Iqbal & Anor v Leek & Anor which is listed for 23 February 2017.

New – Professional negligence: gratuitous services. In Burgess v Lejonvarn a professional consultant who advised friends on a significant landscape gardening project was held to owe them a duty of care. The defendant's appeal will take place on 8/9 March 2017

QOCS: claims against the MIB. In Howe v MIB it was held that a claimant who brought a claim against the MIB arising out of an RTA in France did not have QOCS protection. There are appeals both on this issue and the substantive claim. They are currently being dealt with separately with one due to be heard by 13 March 2017 and the other by 11 April 2017.

Local authority liability: swimming pool accident. In RXDX v Northampton Borough Council & Anr a six year old claimant suffered a brain injury after nearly drowning in a public swimming pool. The local authority was held liable for the failure of the lifeguards on duty to adequately supervise the claimant’s use of the pool. The Court of Appeal hearing will take place on 14/15 June 2017. Read more in Lord Justice Jackson’s judgment granting permission to appeal.

Lung cancer: contributory negligence. Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal has been granted in the case of Blackmore v Department for Communities & Local Government. The 2014 county court decision involved calculating the degree of contributory negligence in a case where the deceased developed lung cancer due to a combination of smoking and exposure to asbestos. The appeal will take place on 14/15 June 2017. Read more in our update on the first instance decision.

Costs: assignment of CFA. The case of  Budana v Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on the validity of assigning a CFA was leapfrogged to the Court of Appeal and will be heard on 4/5 July 2017.

Update - Costs: proportionality. An appeal from the decision of Senior Costs Judge Master Gordon-Saker about the ‘new’ test on proportionality has been leapfrogged to the Court of Appeal. Last month we reported that the hear-by date had disappeared from the Court of Appeal case tracker but BNM v MGN Ltd has now been listed for 10/11 October 2017.

High Court

New - Costs budgeting: detailed assessment. Dominic Regan reported on Twitter earlier this month that there will be an appeal in the case of Merrix v Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust on the application of SARPD, before Mrs Justice Carr on 16 February 2017. 


Motor insurance: implications of ECJ Vnuk ruling for UK legislation. Last month the Department for Transport published its consultation Motor Insurance: consideration of the 'Vnuk judgment' to look at “options for amending domestic motor insurance law in light of the European Court of Justice ruling…” The Government is considering two options: one would result in UK law reflecting the decision in Vnuk and broadening the scope of insurance requirements; the other would be based on the (seemingly) preferred suggestion set out earlier this year in the European Commission Roadmap which would involve amending the Motor Insurance Directive, albeit acknowledging that the Commission has not actually finalised any decisions yet on this. The consultation closes on 31 March 2017. Read more in our brief summary of the consultation

Motor prosecutions: review of driving offences and penalties. Having first been announced in August 2013, the long awaited consultation was published on 5 December the day after a press release announcing that “dangerous drivers who kill are set to face life sentences”. The consultation seeks views on road traffic legislation relating to offences of causing death or serious injury. In particular, views are sought in relation to: the distinction between "careless" and "dangerous" driving; a perceived "gap in the law" for causing serious injury by careless driving; maximum penalties for causing death; driving disqualifications. The consultation closes on 1 February 2017.

Update - Review of Fixed Recoverable Costs. It was announced on 11 November that Lord Justice Jackson had been commissioned to undertake a review of fixed recoverable costs to be completed by 31 July 2017. The terms of reference are to “develop proposals for extending the present civil fixed recoverable costs regime in England and Wales…” and to “consider the types and areas of litigation in which such costs should be extended, and the value of claims to which such a regime should apply”. The review will inform a Government consultation on proposed reforms after consideration of its recommendations. Written submissions were initially invited by 16 January which was extended to 23 January. The deadline has now been extended for a final time to 30 January 2017. Dominic Regan has reported on Twitter reported that Jackson LJ will be touring the country again as he has done previously.

Update - Fixed costs in clinical negligence claims. There is still no sign of the consultation on fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence claims first announced in June 2015. It still appears to be on the agenda according to a response dated 25 January to a written question in which Health Minister David Mowat confirmed "the Department is considering a number of policy options to address rising costs, one of which is a Fixed Recoverable Costs Scheme that would limit recoverable legal costs in clinical negligence claims. A consultation on this measure will be launched shortly." Last month we reported that the National Audit Office (NAO) which scrutinises public spending for Parliament has opened a study to investigate the cost of clinical negligence claims.

Court fees increase: Justice Committee Inquiry. In June the House of Commons Justice Committee published a report following its inquiry into the effects of the introduction and levels of increased fees across, the employment tribunal and the civil courts. Specifically in relation to civil court fees, the Committee raised concern about the quality of the MoJ’s research and recommended a review of the April 2015 increase in fees and that the Government should not resurrect its proposal to double or even remove the £10,000 cap unless such a review has been undertaken. They also recommended piloting a system in which there is a graduated or sequential system of fee payments whenever there are substantial fees payable. In November the Government responded to the report and in relation to money claims accepted the recommendation not to increase fees without completing a review of their impact. The responses in relation to the other types of fees (e.g. divorce) were seen as disappointing by the Committee which held a follow up session with Sir Oliver Heald QC in December although there was not a great deal to report from the session. The inquiry is now marked as concluded. 

CMA legal services study. In January the Competition and Markets Authority launched a market study to “examine long-standing concerns about the affordability of legal services and standards of service.” An interim report was published in July and the final report followed in December. The CMA found that competition in legal services for individual consumers and small businesses is not working well, and made recommendations in order to address the issues that it has identified. The package of measures will be overseen by the Legal Services Board and the CMA will evaluate progress in three years' time. Read more in the CMA press release (which links to the report) and also this handy 60 second summary.

The following consultations are awaiting official responses:

Update - Discount rate consultations. In a statement made to the London Stock Exchange on 7 December the Lord Chancellor announced that she was “undertaking to review the discount rate for personal injury damages awards, and to announce the result of the review by 31 January 2017.” The news came as a surprise to many not only as it was believed that the MoJ’s research into the impact of any change was unfinished but also in light of the government’s proposals for reform to reduce the cost of claims and motor insurance premiums. On 19 December the ABI announced that it had launched a judicial challenge of the decision, calling upon the Government to complete its consultation on the methodology of setting the discount rate before proceeding. The application for permission and interim relief was heard on 19 January, and was refused in a judgment handed down the next morning. The ABI indicated its intention to appeal, and the Lord Chancellor confirmed that no decision would be announced before 31 January. We considered the implications of the review in our update last month. Update 27 January: Last night it emerged that permission to appeal has been refused and in breaking news this morning the Lord Chancellor has released a further statement to the LSE saying that the review "has taken longer than anticipated" but that "the Lord Chancellor remains committed to making an announcement in February." 

Update – Autumn Statement 2015: small claims track & low value whiplash claims. In November the MoJ began its long awaited consultation Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process. The consultation contained alternative proposals for compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) for minor whiplash claims to be removed entirely or replaced by a fixed sum. Additional measures for consideration include introducing a tariff of payments for PSLA in more significant claims, raising the small claims limit in personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000 and banning the settling of whiplash claims without a medical report from an accredited medical expert.” The consultation closed on 6 January 2017 and stakeholders have started to publish their responses. The judiciary's response has attracted the most interest so far - read more on this in Simon Denyer's update. Also attracting press interest was a report prepared by an economics consultancy submitted with the response of Access to Justice, containing the headline that over 35,000 jobs are at moderate to high risk if the threshold on personal injury claims is increased to £5,000. And earlier this month Dominic Regan reported on Twitter that the Justice Select Committee will consider the "injury small claims limit" on 7 February 2017 although this is not yet listed in the parliamentary calendar. The MoJ is due to respond by 7 April 2017.

Claims Management Regulation: fees cap. In February the MoJ published a consultation on proposals to cap the level of fees that regulated CMCs can charge consumers. It is currently only proposed that the cap should apply to the financial products and services claims sector. However, the consultation did invite views on whether fee controls in the personal injury sector should be considered as well. The consultation closed on 11 April.

Legal services regulation: removing barriers to competition. In July the MoJ announced a consultation (promised in November 2015) on proposals to reduce barriers to market entry, and regulatory burdens on Alternative Business Structures in legal services. Lord Faulks’ ministerial statement also mentioned the Government’s intention to consult on regulatory independence, in the context of the interim findings of the CMA’s Legal Services Market Study. On that issue, the CMA had identified benefits and risks within the current regulatory framework and whilst it was open to more fundamental change of the regime it acknowledged the complexity of the issues. The current consultation closed on 3 August.

Update - Driverless technology: DfT consultation. In July the Department for Transport published a consultation seeking views on proposals for the use of automated vehicle technologies, and advanced driver assistance systems. The proposals included changes to insurance law so that motor insurance would remain compulsory but would be extended to cover product liability for automated vehicles. The consultation closed on 9 September 2016 and on 6 January 2017 the Government published its response along with a study showing that driverless cars could significantly reduce delays. On the issue of insurance the Government intends to "proceed to make the minimum legislative changes required to enable the market to develop appropriate AV insurance products." It has also amended its initial proposal so that it "will now extend compulsory motor vehicle insurance creating a single insurer model to protect victims where the AV causes a crash in automated mode. The victim will have a direct right against the motor insurer and the insurer in turn will have a right of recovery against the responsible party to the extent there is a liability under existing laws, including under product liability laws."

Driverless technology: House of Lords inquiry. Soon after the DfT consultation closed, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the future uses of driverless vehicles in the UK. That call for evidence closed on 26 October and the Committee’s questions included whether further revisions are needed to insurance, regulation and legislation in the UK to create an enabling environment for autonomous vehicles. The Committee took oral evidence in November and is preparing its report. 

Solvency II: Treasury Select Committee Inquiry. On 13 September the Treasury Committee launched an inquiry into the new regime for the regulation of insurance, which was implemented in January 2016. There were fears that the much delayed EU directive would impose substantial costs on the insurance industry, and the Committee has already heard evidence suggesting that Brexit provides the opportunity to leave the Solvency II arrangement, and that doing so would help insurance companies. The inquiry will explore the impacts of the directive, and the options now available to the UK, in more detail. The deadline for written submissions was 11 November and the Committee is currently taking oral evidence.  The latest session took place on 25 January.


Insurance contract law reform: draft Insurable Interest Bill. In April the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission published a draft Bill following their review of the issue of Insurable Interest, having previously made proposals for reform in 2008 and 2011. They were asked to return to the issue due to the increased numbers of requests to write policies which include cover for children, cohabitants and to insure ‘key employees’ for substantial amounts. The draft Bill is intended to reflect the proposals set out in the issues paper and the Law Commissions invited comments on the draft Bill by 20 May 2016 with a view to publishing a final draft Bill and report in autumn 2016 but there have been no further developments to date.  

Enterprise Act 2016: late payment of insurance claims. The Act which includes provisions giving policyholders a right to damages for late payment of claims received Royal Assent on 4 May. The late payment provisions will come into force on 4 May 2017. Read more in our update from last year

Also on the horizon...

Insurance Fraud Taskforce. Having published its final report at the beginning of 2016, the Taskforce met in November to look at what progress had been made to implement their 26 recommendations and the further work required to complete the task. Having accepted the Taskforce’s recommendations back in May, the Government in its “Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (Whiplash) Claims Process” consultation is now seeking to implement the reforms announced in last year’s Autumn Statement (as recommended by the Taskforce), together with the recommended use of predictable damages in whiplash claims and mandatory notification of referral sources. This includes a recommendation from the Taskforce’s Personal Injury Working Party to amend the QOCS rules where a claimant discontinues less than 28 days before the start of a trial. 

Update - MedCo. Following the MoJ’s announcement last October of the revised Qualifying Criteria for MROs, effective from 8 November, MedCo suspended 134 shell companies for failing to comply with the new Qualifying Criteria. This change, together with the change to the search criteria announced earlier in the year were introduced to tackle the gaming of the MedCo system. Read more about the changes in Nigel Teasdale’s update. This month, MedCo has announced a new Executive Chair. Martin Heskins replaces Lorraine Rogerson who has completed her two year tenure.

Claims Management Regulation. Carol Brady published the final report following her independent review of claims management regulation in March 2016. The review had been commissioned by the Treasury and the MoJ to examine the perception of widespread misconduct among CMCs and make recommendations to improve the regulatory regime.  It was then announced in the budget statement, also in March that responsibility for regulating CMCs would be transferred from the MoJ to the FCA. Since then, work has been ongoing at the FCA to develop proposals for how the regulation will operate but it is still not yet known when the primary legislation required to transfer regulation to the FCA will be ready. In the meantime there was news last month that from 30 December ownership of the Telephone Preference Service would be transferred from Ofcom to the Information Commissioners Office. Following that announcement MASS, APIL and The Law society took the opportunity to repeat their calls for a complete ban on cold calling for personal injury claims.

SRA: thematic review of personal injury sector. In February the SRA announced that it was starting a review to better understand the personal injury market and in August it began approaching a number of firms to participate in its survey. In October the SRA published its research. According to the survey, conducted by ICF Consulting, the perception is that the market seems to be generally working well although there are concerns that require further investigation. These include the quality of medical reports and a lack of knowledge within firms which have moved into areas such as clinical negligence and disease. Read more in Simon Denyer’s update. Work is ongoing to determine the prevalence of the issues highlighted and the SRA is visiting Personal Injury firms to understand how they have adapted following LASPO. The SRA expects to report further this year.

Update - Mesothelioma claims: LASPO funding provisions. In late 2014 following a Justice Select Committee inquiry, the Government decided not to end the exemption from the application of LASPO provisions on recoverability to mesothelioma claims. They said a further review of the likely effects of the funding reforms on mesothelioma claims would be carried out in due course and this will now form part of the Post Implementation Review of LASPO. A Commons Briefing Note on mesothelioma claims last year speculated this would happen over 2017/2018. On 17 January, Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald QC attended an All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting on Legal Aid and announced that a post-legislative memorandum on LASPO would be sent to the Justice Select Committee before May ahead of a full post-implementation review of the Act to be conducted by April 2018. Whilst the focus of this meeting was on Legal Aid, we presume that the full review will include a review of the mesothelioma provisions.

Update – Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. At the end of November the DWP published the 2015/16 annual review of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. The scheme is being seen as a success with 240 applicants in 2015/16 receiving an average payment of £135,000 amounting to a total of £36.5 million paid to applicants from the levy on EL insurers. On 18 January the 2016/17 levy was announced. It is £40.4m which includes £5.2m to accommodate a shortfall last year. This seems to reflect the comment in the annual review that setting the levy remains a challenge - last year the levy was reduced to reflect an overpayment the year before. By way of a comparison the levy in 2014/15 was £32m representing 2.2% of EL GWP and in 2015/16 was £31m representing 2%, although the reduced levy of £23.2m represented 1.5%. 

NIHL claims: Government action. In June 2015 the ABI published its report Tackling the Compensation Culture: Noise Induced Hearing Loss, improving the claims system for everyone which highlighted concerns about the increasing numbers and cost of NIHL claims. In late July the MoJ announced that in response to those concerns it had asked the Civil Justice Council to consider the issue and make recommendations. They are to consider how a fixed costs regime for NIHL cases might work and how the handling of these claims might be improved. The group was aiming to prepare an initial report by November 2015 with a final report by April 2016 but as the year went on hopes of seeing it before the end of the year dwindled. There is still no official news on the report and we also do not yet know how the work being done in this area will fit with the current consultation on increasing the small claims track limit and LJ Jackson’s review of fixed costs

QOCS: Civil Justice Council report. In 2014 a new CJC working group was set up to advise on issues arising from the implementation of the Jackson reforms. Part of their remit, was to investigate and report on arguments for and against extending QOCS to other categories of case characterised by an asymmetric relationship between the parties such as actions against the police and solicitors’ professional negligence in injury claims. The report (pdf) was published on 30 June and concluded there is a strong case for extending the principle to police claims. For solicitors’ negligence claims, whilst there may be a case in principle for extending QOCS here, there does not appear to be a similar push for its application. In both cases, they say that any decision to extend QOCS would be a matter of policy for the Ministry of Justice.

Civil Justice Council (CJC) review of Damages Based Agreements. The Government's response to the CJC review of DBAs is still awaited. In September 2015 the CJC made a number of recommendations but the main issue of interest going into the review was the government’s decision not to permit hybrid DBAs, and in particular concurrent hybrid DBAs. The Working Group was divided on whether these should be allowed but it concluded that “it was a policy decision which was ultimately one for the Government". Read more in the CJC media release

Update - Civil Courts Structure Review: LJ Briggs' Final Report. On 27 July, Lord Justice Briggs published his final report following his review of the structure of the civil courts. There was no change from the headline recommendation of the interim report, namely the introduction of an online court capable of handling claims with a value up to £25,000, although Briggs LJ does mention that "the £10,000 threshold for the small claims track... may offer a worthwhile stepping stone" for a soft launch. A detailed summary can be found in the press release accompanying the report and you can read more in Simon Denyer’s analysis. The report also had an oblique reference in the "Transforming our Justice System" joint statement in the sense that the MoJ intends to automate and digitise “the entire process of civil money claims by 2020”. This month a Joint Statement was released by the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls confirming that the senior judiciary endorses the final report of the Civil Courts Structure Review, and supports the recommendations made by Briggs LJ. 

Update - Motor Insurers' Bureau: new Untraced Drivers' agreement. After consulting in 2013 and publishing a new Uninsured Drivers' Agreement in 2015, the DfT has announced that a new Untraced Drivers’ Agreement has now been agreed and will come into effect on 1 March 2017.  A Supplementary Agreement for the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement has also been agreed and will enter force on the same day. The MIB press release says [the] “MIB paying a claim for the damage to an uninsured driver’s car when it has been caused by another uninsured or a ‘hit and run’ driver seems counter-intuitive. However, from 1 March 2017 that is what MIB will be required to do.” The agreements are available from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and see also the Consultation homepage. Note that the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has stated that the rules will be repealed following Brexit.


For further information please contact Alex Fusco, Professional Support Lawyer on 0161 603 5211.

By Alex Fusco

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.