(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 25 seconds)
It has been over four years since plans to reform low value personal injury claims were proposed. A lot has happened in that time – a new Conservative government, the UK having left the European Union and, of course, the current global pandemic. The repercussions of these events have been significant to say the least, but despite all of this happening in the foreground the planned changes to low value personal injury and whiplash claims are set to come into effect in April 2021.
So, with this date in every personal injury lawyer’s calendar, how did we get here and what has been going on in the background to prepare the industry for the coming changes?
Initially the plan was to have everything ready for April 2019, following the enactment of The Civil Liability Act (CLA) 2018 in December 2018. The rules brought in by this Act would allow the Motor Insurers’ Bureau and Ministry of Justice to integrate them into their new portal system. However, it became clear they were not going to be ready in time and the launch pushed back until April 2020.
The new portal/website allowed for litigants in person who had been in a low value road traffic accident to pursue a claim online, without legal representation. Plus, in an attempt to reduce the cost to the insurer, the CLA 2018 had raised the small claims limit to £5,000 – a figure where the vast majority of whiplash claims should settle, thus reducing the number requiring legal representation.
The portal went live for registration in January 2020 and a number of issues quickly arose which casted doubts over whether this would be ready to go live in April. On 27th February, the Lord Chancellor announced the reforms would be further pushed back – to 1st August 2020. The additional 3 months were to make sure the portal was completely ready for implementation.
Subsequently, on 21st April 2020, a further announcement was made by the Lord Chancellor stating that, because of the effects of Covid-19, the reforms would need to be pushed back further. This time until April 2021 – due to the impact, not only on legal services, but also the medical and insurance sectors.
While the extra delay has given both the lawyers and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau plenty of time to prepare, nobody knows what the future will bring as we go through a second national lockdown. The biggest questions are what impact these reforms will have on an already weakened industry and whether they will be pushed back further to allow a settling down period following Covid-19.
Despite all of this, Temple remain committed to helping lawyers and their clients by providing a stress-free full delegation ATE insurance scheme for your personal injury cases; one that can be used all the way to trial. If this is something you would be interested in please contact us on 01483 577877.