The Civil Liability Bill received Royal Assent yesterday, meaning the battle over the reforms now moves to the regulations that will fill in much of the detail, including the compensation tariff.
A tweet from the Motor Accident Solicitors Society said: “The devil is still very much in the details of how the Civil Liability Act is implemented and the development of the new LiP [litigant in person] portal. It is those decisions in the months ahead that will have the real impact on the ability of claimants to pursue justice.”
These views were echoed by Qamar Anwar, managing director of marketing collective First4Lawyers, who put the government “on notice that we and others will be focusing our campaigning efforts on that secondary legislation”.
He added: “There’s also the added issue of the proposed online portal for personal injury litigants. There is very little confidence in the industry that this will be ready for use by thousands of consumers from the government’s planned implementation date of April 2020.
“We’ll be watching this closely and looking for assurances from the Ministry of Justice that the portal is fit for purpose from day one. If ministers cannot guarantee this, then they will need to swallow their pride and move the implementation date back.”
On the other side of the market, James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers, said: “The measures within the Civil Liability Act will deliver a more proportionate approach to whiplash claims and create a fairer system for claimants, insurance customers and taxpayers.
“The ABI has worked hard with politicians, civil servants and wider stakeholders to see these reforms through and it is great to end the year with Royal Assent.”
Deborah Newberry, head of corporate and public affairs at leading defendant law firm Kennedys, urged the government to ensure that, when drafting the regulations, “it does not leave open avenues for behaviours that seek to exploit the system and will create satellite litigation”.
She added: “There remains also the concern that claims management companies will look to take advantage of the new system.
“The Ministry of Justice and the Financial Conduct Authority – which takes over the regulation of CMCs in April 2019 – will need to stay alive to how the market changes so as to prevent fraud and claims farming.”