Two pieces of legislation came into law today which will transform the personal injury sector and set the ball rolling on sweeping court reforms.
The Ministry of Justice confirmed Royal Assent has been granted to both the Civil Liability Bill and Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill.
Justice secretary David Gauke said the new legislation showed that, despite the squeeze on parliamentary time, this was a sign of the Ministry of Justice ‘getting on with business as usual and delivering real change’.
The Civil Liability Act introduces a tariff on damages for soft tissue injuries sustained in an RTA. This is likely to be implemented in April 2020 at the same time as the government introduces a new £5,000 small claims limit for RTA claims. Both measures are expected to significantly reduce the number of lawyers working in the low-value claims sector.
An MoJ statement said the legislation 'will ensure spurious or exaggerated whiplash claims are no longer an easy payday'. The MoJ's statement repeated that insurers have promised to pass on savings to motorists through lower insurance premiums, although no figure was cited.
The act also makes changes to how the discount rate calculates deductions from personal injury damages. The MoJ insists claimants with life-changing injuries still receive full and fair compensation, while also reducing the 'burden of over-compensation' on defendants.
The Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Act will allow 'appropriately qualified and experienced' court and tribunal staff to deal with routine matters usually handled by judges. It will also allow the judiciary to be deployed across jurisdictions where they are most needed. The legislation is expected to be the first of several law changes to enable the court modernisation programme.
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: 'By enabling judges to hear cases in different jurisdictions and giving court staff powers to deal with routine issues, we will make our courts more efficient and effective, while making better use of taxpayers’ money.'
See Joshua Rozenberg's article, Sitting in judgement on flexible courts.