In April 2020, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government announced a delay to the implementation of the whiplash reform programme until April 2021.
From then on, the personal injury claims legal sector focussed their attentions on the tasks in hand; getting through unprecedented times and continuing to get justice for those unfortunately affected by a road traffic accident.
10 months have passed and despite lockdown three and a worldwide pandemic in full swing, the Ministry of Justice seems keen to press on with its plans for reforming the claims process for low value road traffic accident claims this year. Announcing a one-month delay, the changes will come into effect in May 2021.
Short and fast-approaching deadline
On 11th January 2021, when Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC announced the delay and proposed go-live date to parliament, he assured everyone that there was enough time for everything to be in place by the start date.
He said: “This is a sensible and pragmatic approach to take in order to achieve successful and effective implementation of the whiplash reform programme. Delivering these reforms remains a key government priority and we will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that all are sufficiently prepared for the new measures upon implementation.
My concern is a go live date in May will be a metaphorical car crash rather than a smooth transition
We have listened carefully to the concerns raised by stakeholders, in particular the need for as much notice as possible to take the necessary steps in anticipation of these reforms and to prepare their businesses for the changes to how small road traffic personal injury claims are managed.”
David Bott along with many other personal injury lawyers, sees things differently.
The claimant solicitors’ viewpoint
“Needless to say we appreciate the slight delay, however with little over three months until the new set date, there’s a lot to be done and no information to provide assistance.
I have said it before, but when the Civil Liability Act was first announced, it was assumed that the Ministry of Justice would give all those involved enough time to fully prepare.
The implementation date was then pushed back and as of today, there are still no rules, no up to date tariffs and as such there is no model that claimant lawyers can model or build. Insurers have said that three months of notice post publication of the rules is sufficient, but I strongly feel that any business would need longer than that” said Mr Bott.
David Bott continues: “So the short delay is welcomed, but surely a longer delay is needed, especially as at today there is no information to prepare for the changes.”
My concern is a go live date in May will be a metaphorical car crash rather than a smooth transition that could be achieved by allowing all parties enough time to plan and prepare.”
Senior Partner of Bott and Co, David is a fellow, and past president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Championing consumer rights, he regularly speaks at legal conferences and has appeared on a number of television shows including The One Show and Watchdog, as well as BBC Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live.