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Budget documents indicate that whiplash reform is “coming soon”

Kinley: Have to look hard to find clues to government’s intentions

The government’s whiplash reforms will have to be published soon to meet Treasury forecasts published with Wednesday’s Budget, a leading insurance law firm has suggested.

BLM said the material “appears to indicate that government expects to implement these reforms before April 2019”.

The reforms were first announced in George Osborne’s 2015 Autumn Statement but were lost in what was the Prison and Courts Bill in the run-up to the general election.

They were revived in June’s Queen’s Speech as the Civil Liability Bill, but no details have since been published by the Ministry of Justice.

Alistair Kinley, BLM’s director of policy & government affairs, said that “things may have changed with the 2017 budget, but you really do have to look hard to find the clues”.

He explained that buried deep in the material that accompanied Philip Hammond’s speech was a table [1] which mapped projected revenue changes due to measures from the 2015 Autumn Statement, including the impact of “reform to motor insurance claims rules” to insurance premium tax (IPT).

Mr Kinley said the table and BLM’s additional projections suggested that whiplash reform would not happen before April 2018, given that there was no projected IPT change in the 2017/18 financial year.

“However, the implementation date should lie between April 2018 and April 2019 and the IPT and premium savings build up over time. This points very strongly to implementation being for ‘accidents on or after’ the relevant date.

“It is not easy to predict more accurately when in the April 2018-April 2019 window the implementation date might lie. Our earlier best estimate of Q3 2018 is therefore still plausible.”

The figures showed that, when implemented in full, the government expected the reforms to contribute to an aggregate reduction in motor insurance premium of just over £450m annually.

Mr Kinley concluded: “If, as appears likely to be the government’s intention, the necessary legislation is to take effect from around this time next year, then we would expected it to be introduced in the coming weeks.”