Looking ahead is back after the summer break, in a more streamlined format with new dedicated webpages for our usual look at forthcoming appeals, consultations and legislation.
It seems hard to believe it was only two months ago that Boris Johnson took over as Prime Minister, given the amount of political drama that has occurred in that time, and that the political landscape continues to change on an almost hourly basis.
Although the Supreme Court's ruling now means that Parliament was not prorogued, and draft legislation such as the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill which we have been following is still live, it is difficult to see Parliament finding the time in the near future to pass further legislation, an issue which may be keenly felt in relation to the secondary legislation required for the planned whiplash and small claims track reforms.
We now have a new Justice Minister, Chris Philp, who may be remembered as being an active participant in the debate around CMCs and cold calling dating back to 2016. Read more on his appointment in the Gazette who recall that he previously supported an increase in the small claims track limit to £10,000.
Aside from the political developments over the past two months, there have been few major developments affecting the insurance claims handling landscape with the courts and Parliament having their summer recess, although we expect the pace to pick up in the next couple of months.
And... to start us off, the Government Actuary has today published his review and determination of the personal injury rate in Scotland maintaining the rate at minus 0.75%. Read more in our update.
The Michaelmas term looks set to be a busy one for appeals having an impact in the insurance claims handling sector. In November, the Supreme Court is set to hear the two highly anticipated vicarious liability appeals in Various Claimants v Barclays Bank Plc and Various Claimants v Wm Morrisons Supermarket.
There are a number of appeals of potential interest taking place in the Court of Appeal in October. QOCS is due to be considered in The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis & Anor v Brown, and fixed costs in Cham (by their Litigation Friend Laura Martin) v Aldred, and Adelekun v Lai Ho. Head over to our new Casewatch page for further details and a look ahead to forthcoming appeals later in the year.
Whiplash and small claims track reforms
Despite almost all of the summer's parliamentary activity centring around Brexit and constitutional issues, the MoJ did manage to respond to its consultation on the Future provision of medical reports under the new whiplash and small claims track reforms. You can read more about the consultation response in Nigel Teasdale's update from earlier this month and on our new Whiplash Reforms page summarising the reforms and recent developments. Earlier in September, the ABI's James Dalton asked whether the plans to increase the small claims track in EL/PL claims are still appropriate at this stage, given the amount of work required to deliver the RTA reforms and the need to get it right. The theme of 'getting it right' continued last week, when the MoJ spoke at the Legal Futures PI Futures conference and maintained that April 2020 remains the goal for implementation but that the MoJ wants "to get this right and not rush it". Read more in MoJ on whiplash portal: "We must not rush it" - Legal Futures.
We are continuing to track relevant consultations on our new Current Consultations page which includes this month the government response to the consultation on the provision of medical evidence under the planned whiplash reforms, and details on the summer consultation from the FCA on the treatment of vulnerable customers.
Similarly, our new Legislation page continues to track legislation of interest on the horizon. The Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill remains live now that the prorogation has been declared null and void, although it is difficult to know how much parliamentary time can be made for all the outstanding Bills.
We have also been tracking progress of the proposed amendments to the Motor Insurance Directive in the European Parliament. The new legislative term began on 2 July and on 18 July IMCO agreed to request the resumption of work on the proposed amendments in this term.
News in brief…
Personal injury discount rate. As we've reported above, today's breaking news is that the discount rate in Scotland is set to remain at minus 0.75%. Read more in our update. By way of a reminder, the new rate of minus 0.25% in England and Wales came into force on 5 August. There was also news over the summer that Gibraltar has now introduced a statutory discount rate and that the Isle of Man Treasury is reviewing a possible change to the way personal injury compensation payments are calculated through the discount rate.
Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. ASHE is usually released in October, with last year's release being published on 25 October. The ONS release calendar suggests a provisional date of 29 October 2019 for this year's data.
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. On 19 September the Inquiry published its report on the Accountability and Reparations investigation, which focused on the aftermath of child sexual abuse and the legal process of claiming compensation. The report found that that "neither the criminal or civil justice system is able to effectively deliver the redress that victims and survivors seek, with many finding the processes baffling, frustrating, hostile and futile". The next phase of the investigation will look at the law of limitation and the potential for a redress scheme. Read more in Litigation Futures.
Clinical negligence fixed costs. Dominic Regan reported on Twitter last week that a "Senior Costs Judge said yesterday that some proposals to fix costs in clinical negligence claims up to £25k have finally emerged and going up to Government imminently."
Motor claims inflation. In August, Willis Towers Watson published details of its latest Claim Metrics benchmarking analysis, finding that "motor claims payout inflation in the UK rose by 8.6% in 2018, taking the average cost per claim (ACPC) to £4,791…This latest annual rise in claims inflation represents the fourth consecutive increase in the ACPC, which has now risen by £760 since 2016." Read more Motor claims inflation in the UK surges by over 8% in 2018 - Willis Towers Watson
Judicial College Guidelines. For anyone who might have been expecting publication this month of the new edition of the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, the OUP catalogue is listing the estimated publication date as 15 November 2019.
HMCTS court reform programme. This month the National Audit Office published a progress update on the reform programme, concluding that HMCTS has made progress, but is behind schedule with its ambitious plan to reform the justice system to make it simpler and cheaper to run, and faces a significant challenge to deliver it on time and to budget. In its response, HMCTS states that it is already acting upon the NAO's recommendations. Read more in the Gazette.
SRA Code of Conduct: new regulations. The SRA has this month launched a new 'one stop shop' webpage providing solicitors and law firms with easy access to resources designed to help prepare for the introduction of their new Standards and Regulations on 25 November. The Gazette highlights the 'must read' guidance for the newly allowed freelancer.
Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation. We have previously reported on this review being undertaken by the Centre for Ethics and Law in the UCL Faculty of Laws. It began in October 2018 and is due to report to the MoJ in January 2020. This month, Head of the Review, Honorary Professor Stephen Mayson has published his interim report (pdf) which contains findings about the current regulatory framework, propositions for reform, and consultation questions on these propositions and the consequential issues they raise. This will now be followed by further meetings and discussions during the autumn. The consultation period closes on 29 November 2019. Read more in the Gazette.
For further information please contact Alex Fusco, Professional Support Lawyer on 0161 603 5211.
You can find all previous editions of Looking Ahead here
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.