24 March, 2020
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has provided an update on the next steps for the Whiplash Reform Programme. As anticipated, he has confirmed that the Government has decided that more time is needed to make sure the Whiplash Reform Programme is ready for implementation and as a result the measures will not be introduced in April 2020 as planned. In particular, he points to the need to work with the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to put in place the supporting rules and pre-action protocol. The statutory instrument also needs to be laid before Parliament to introduce the tariff of damages for whiplash injuries.
The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP reiterates in his written statement that the Government remains firmly committed to "implementing measures to tackle the high number and cost of whiplash claims" and is now working towards implementation on 1st August 2020.
Under the proposed reforms, a fixed tariff of damages will be introduced for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, as well as a ban on the making or accepting of offers to settle a whiplash claim without a medical report. In addition, the small claims track limit for road traffic related claims will be increased to £5,000.
The written statement also confirmed:
Given the current situation it seems increasingly unlikely that the Government will be able to finalise the rules and pre-action protocol in advance of the revised implementation date on 1 August 2020 and we suspect the date will need to be pushed back even further.
It is also worth noting that as the small claims limit will not initially apply to children and protected parties, they will not therefore be subject to the new pre-action protocol and will not have access to the online Service. The normal track for claims by children and protected parties which include a whiplash injury, will be the fast track. Claimants will be able to instruct a legal representative who can obtain a medical report on their behalf and the costs of legal representation will remain recoverable. This will allow relevant claimants to obtain a medical report before they can settle their claim.
We will be issuing further updates as and when further information becomes available.