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Eyes on the prize to secure the whiplash portal

Tough compromises are required to secure the launch of the whiplash portal by April 2020.

Although the warm weather from the late summer Bank Holiday weekend may have gone, the heat is still on if consumers are to receive the benefits that were envisaged when passing the Civil Liability Act 2018. I reflected on this in Post in early August and I have been thinking further about how best to ensure these important reforms are brought to their intended conclusion. There remains a significant amount of work to do if the reforms are to deliver access to justice for genuinely injured people, and I believe that the time has come to refocus - to ensure we deliver an efficient compensation system at a proportionate cost for RTA claims.

In the package of reforms originally proposed by the Ministry of Justice, there was a proposal to increase the Small Claims Track (SCT) for employers’ liability (EL) and public liability (PL) claims from £1,000 to £2,000. For better or worse, this has largely gone unnoticed. When the legislation was debated in Parliament, the focus was rightly and understandably more on the important changes to the amount that can be claimed for whiplash injuries and the very distinct proposal to increase the SCT limit for Road Traffic Act (RTA) personal injury claims to £5,000. The SCT increase for EL and PL claims remains the Government’s policy but I think that the time has come to ask whether this policy remains right, especially in the context of the serious amount of work that needs to be done to deliver the wider RTA reforms.

The IT portal build remains on track, but the policy and regulatory underpinnings of the wider package of reform remain a cause for concern, including the issue of minor injuries that I raised in my last blog. The reforms to the process for RTA claims are vital to delivering a more efficient compensation system at a proportionate cost, a cost which is of course ultimately paid for by millions of car insurance premium payers. So, it seems to me that our collective effort should be on ensuring we get these reforms done and that we get them done right.

In order to achieve this, focus will be required. We should be concentrating on delivering the regulatory underpinnings for an IT platform that supports unrepresented claimants to make whiplash claims by April 2020. I think that not continuing to pursue the proposed increase in the SCT for EL/PL claims, should ensure that all stakeholders are able to focus on the successful delivery of the changes for RTA claims.

Insurers remain committed to making these reforms a reality. But to do so, we need to be pragmatic, focused and ready to make tough compromises. By not pursuing an increased SCT limit for EL/PL claims, insurers are playing our part to help make the RTA reforms a reality.

Last updated 03/09/2019