No amendments were put forward as the Bill went through its last day in the House while experts debated it at the ABI Motor Conference
After much campaigning from claimant lawyers and the insurance industry, and a journey that some will consider as being almost ten years, as the first talks of the idea came around in 2009, the Civil Liability Bill has completed its journey through parliament and is now just waiting Royal Assent.
When experts were debating implementation challenges and the ABI Motor Conference yesterday the Bil was in the House for its consideration of amendments stage, but no amendments were put forward according to Lord Keen of Elie, who gave the first keynote speech of the day.
“I hope it is a smooth process later today,” he said. “I expect it will be because no amendments have been put forward.”
And it did prove to be smooth, much to the delight of insurers across the country.
James Dalton, director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said: “These much-needed reforms to personal injury compensation will mean a fairer system for claimants, insurance customers and taxpayers.
“Once enacted, they will deliver a more proportionate approach to handling lower value personal injury claims, such as whiplash, and a modern framework for setting the Discount Rate, used to assess compensation for larger value personal injury claims.”
Rob Townend, managing director of Aviva’s UK General Insurance business, said: “The advance of The Civil Liability Bill through Parliament is a victory for consumers.
”The bill, is fantastic news and represents a fairer system which balances care and compensation for genuine injuries while removing excess costs. The result will help to make motor insurance more affordable for us all.
Meanwhile, Martin Milliner, claims director at LV=, said: “It’s great to finally see the Civil Liability Bill get rubber-stamped in Parliament.
”This signals a real boost to household incomes at a time of uncertainty in the country. Personal injury lawyers will say that the proposed legislation is unfair to customers but the reality is that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
”This legislation has been designed to help provide clarity for customers and they should be pleased that action is being taken to help reduce insurance bills.”
Insurers have pledged to pass on 100% of the savings to consumers as lower premiums. The proposed savings have been reported at around £35 per policy.
This, however was debated at length at the ABI Motor Conference, with one insurer suggesting this £35 saving could be swallowed up by other costs.
Andy Watson, chief executive of Ageas UK said: “I don’t see how this Bill is a win for insurers? They have promised to pass on any savings.”
But, with regard to the predicted saving, he said it was a “sensible” calculation from ”a snapshot of the market at the time,” suggesting the £35 figure could be optimistic.
John Hyde, deputy editor at the Law Society Gazette said other charges will cancel out the proposed savings.
He said: ”“You may pass on the whiplash savings, but the costs you incur elsewhere will make those whiplash savings redundant.”
To that, Watson said: ”It may well be true that, without the Civil Liability Bill, premiums would have been £35 higher than they would otherwise be, but you will have claims inflation in other heads of damages.”
Donna Scully, director at Carpenters Group reiterated her concerns as to the ’frictionless’ nature of the LiP Portal, which will take most of the whiplash injury claims after implementation of the Bill in April 2020.
“I think we are rolling out the red carpet for CMCs,” she said.
Andrew Parker of DAC Beachcroft argued this saying the transfer of CMC regulation from the MoJ to the FCA will come as ”a nasty surprise for some of those operators because it will focus much more on the integrity of the people behind the business”,
But Scully said that it will be “too complicated” if credit hire and credit repair is not going to be on the portal. She said that litigants in person ”wont go on the portal by themselves and will be hounded by CMCs,” much like PPI.
“Is it going to be separate?” she asked. ”Is it going to be two claims for the one claim? That is very complicated. That concerns me.”
Finally, David Parkin, deputy director for civil justice and law at the Ministry of Justice, predicted that we would finally see progress being made on the second part of the Bill in 2019.
He added: “Is there likely to be a shift in claims behaviour as a result of the whiplash tariff? Possibly, but that doesn’t undermine the purpose and benefits of what we’re doing. It’s a matter of monitoring that behaviour and responding accordingly.”