The UK Government’s decision to pause work on the Whiplash Reform has been welcomed by the president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL).
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland issued an update on the government’s Whiplash Reform Programme in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic in which he announced the implementation of the new scheme will be delayed until April 2021.
He added: “The government remains firmly committed to implementing these measures which are intended to control the number and cost of whiplash claims. Under the Programme, we will increase the small claims track limit for road traffic accident related personal injury claims to £5,000; as well as introduce a fixed tariff of damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash injuries, and a ban on the making or accepting of offers to settle a whiplash claim without a medical report.”
The Lord Chancellor added the government had indicated on 27 February 2020 that after careful consideration it had decided to implement the whiplash reforms in August 2020.
“However, it is apparent that the current Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the medical, legal and insurance sectors. While the whiplash reform measures remain important, the government is committed to acting to ease the disruption and pressures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak where it can,” he explained.
The ministry of Justice said it has considered representations from key stakeholder groups and agrees that now is not the time to press ahead with significant transformational change to the personal injury sector.
“We have therefore decided to delay the implementation of the whiplash reform programme to April 2021,” added the Lord Chancellor. “This will enable key sectors of this country’s business to focus their energies on delivering their response to Covid-19 and will allow the government to focus on delivering key services in the justice area during this difficult time.
The government said it will continue to monitor developments in relation to the current pandemic and will, if necessary, make further announcements in regard to the implementation of the reforms.
The announcement has been welcomed by FOIL, which has been directly involved with the process to shape the reforms.
Anthony Baker, President of FOIL and Partner at Plexus said: “With the current UK wide lockdown it is welcome, albeit unsurprising news that the Government has announced that the Whiplash Reform Programme will be delayed from August 2020 to April 2021.
“The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the insurance, legal, judicial and medico-legal sector and everyone’s priorities must lie in elsewhere in getting through this turbulent period.
“The industry will welcome this news and the delay will allow more time for the outstanding required work by the CPRC and MIB to be completed and for insurers and representatives to fully prepare operationally for the reforms within the Official Injury Portal. The Lord Chancellor has confirmed that the Government is still committed to delivering the reforms which is again positive news at a time of such uncertainty.”