The Civil Liability Bill [HL] is a government bill, which has two main purposes. The first is to introduce measures designed to disincentivise the number of minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims for compensation resulting from whiplash injuries sustained in road traffic accidents. The second is make provision with regard to the personal injury discount rate, according to which claims for the loss of past and future earnings resulting from personal injuries are determined.
Amongst the measures included in the Bill are proposals to give the Lord Chancellor the power to specify a tariff according to which damages for whiplash injuries would be determined (when the duration of those injuries is not longer than two years); to allow a departure from this tariff in exceptional circumstances; to ban the settlement of claims without appropriate medical evidence; and for the Lord Chancellor to set the personal injury discount rate following advice from an expert panel, and according to a calculation based on a ‘low-risk’ investment profile intended to provide not less or more than 100 percent compensation for the injury sustained.
The Bill is part of a package of primary and secondary legislative measures on personal injury claims. The most significant of the latter are the Government’s plans to raise the limit for claims on the small claims track in civil courts from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident-related personal injury claims, and from £1,000 to £2,000 for other personal injury claims. Both primary and secondary legislative measures are intended to come into force at the same time in April 2019.
Reaction to the proposals has been mixed. Organisations such as the Association of British Insurers and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers have been supportive of the plans, suggesting they are long overdue. In contrast, the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and campaigning groups such as Access to Justice, have raised concerns such as the access of claimants to legal advice, and queried whether any savings generated by the proposals will be passed onto customers by the insurance industry.