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Un-Civil Liability Bill

This past week has seen a couple of major developments with the Government’s proposed Civil Liability Bill with it having its Second Reading in the Commons.

Firstly, the government may be willing to make a concession that ‘vulnerable’ road users will not be subject to the new small claims limit to £5,000 for RTA claims. Whilst the definition of ‘vulnerable’ road users is not known, this is likely to include motorcyclists, horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians.

As we understand it, the proposed tariff will only be applied to "whiplash" injuries. Other claims for general damages will remain unaffected. Generally, those ‘vulnerable’ road users do not tend to suffer from whiplash type injuries, but cuts and abrasions, broken bones and head trauma.

As a cyclist, whilst this may come as welcome news to me, even I struggle to see the logic as to why some road users who have the misfortune to suffer injury from a road traffic accident should be excluded from the new proposed limit if their injuries justify damages below that limit. Perhaps this will lead to an epidemic of cyclists staging accidents?

So it would seem that the noise about "whiplash claims” was just a ruse to increase the small claims limit after all. Who knew! An increase of sorts may not be unreasonable but the proposed limit of £5,000.00 would appear to have no basis at all as being just and reasonable. Why is the small claims limit increase not in line with inflation?

But then we come on to the welcome news and assurances from the insurance industry that savings from personal injury reforms will be passed on to consumers. No chuckling!

Insurers will be required to provide information to the Financial Conduct Authority about the effects of the proposed legislation, showing amounts paid for PI claims and the expected amount if the legislation had not passed. Will this just encourage insurers to estimate higher awards? ‘Colossus’ will be turning in its grave.

Insurers will also have to give details of the amounts charged for motor premiums both pre and post the proposed changes. This information will have to be audited (presumably by their own accountants?). Factor in the costs of auditing and any alleged saving of £35 per person will be conveniently lost in the whole process.

The industry will have until March 2025 to provide a report to Parliament, showing the effect of the bill.

In the meantime, insurers will continue to increase premiums. Hands up if your renewal quote was higher than the previous years? Were you able to find the same cover elsewhere for a much cheaper premium?

The bill now passes to committee stage before it returns to the commons for a third reading. Perhaps the full impact of these reforms will be considered fully. The loss of revenue to so many other public agencies, the NHS and DWP for instance, all for a promised £35 per person?

It is quite staggering really that access to justice is at the forefront of Government minds, whilst other matters like Brexit, the NHS, education and so on are seemingly less important.

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