Review of whiplash tariff concluded – but may not be published

Chalk: Seat is a target for the LibDems

The Lord Chancellor has completed his review of the whiplash tariff but it is unclear whether the plan to publish it in early June will now happen because of the election.

It is one of various measures of importance to the profession that are now up in the air ahead of prorogation today – the formal end to the parliamentary session – and the dissolution of Parliament next week.

On Wednesday, just hours before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the election, Alex Chalk told Parliament in a written statement that he had completed his review of the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021, following the call for evidence earlier this year.

Under the Civil Liability Act, he was required to review the whiplash tariff within three years of implementation of the Official Injury Claim portal, which was on 31 May 2021.

“In laying this statement today, I meet my statutory obligation to review the regulations by 31 May 2024. As per the requirements of the Act, I will lay a report outlining my review and conclusions in the libraries of both Houses on the return from Whitsun recess.”

This will not now be possible and a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman was unable to confirm at the moment whether it would still be published.

Mr Chalk faces an uphill battle to retain his seat of Cheltenham, which he held at the last election with a majority of just 981. It is one of the Liberal Democrats’ main targets and the party launched its election campaign there yesterday.

Meanwhile, speaking in Parliament yesterday, leader of the House Penny Mordaunt said talks were underway between the Conservatives and Labour about the so-called ‘wash-up’ period.

As any unfinished business is lost at dissolution, the government needs the co-operation of the opposition to pass outstanding pieces of legislation.

She indicated that she wanted to see the Victims and Prisoners Bill go through, as a new amendment would establish the compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal, as well as the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill, which would quash the convictions of sub-postmasters.

The fate of other legislation – such as the Litigation Funding Agreements (Enforceability) Bill, the Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation Bill and the Renters (Reform) Bill – is currently unknown.

Prorogation also means that inquiries that were in train by the justice select committe – including into probate delays and the work of the county court – will not now report.

Committee chair Sir Bob Neill, who is standing down at the election, said the evidence its received remained on the public record: “Where it has been possible, we have also written to the Ministry of Justice with our high-level views.

“Many of the issues will still need to be urgent priorities for the next government, and it is therefore quite likely that they will influence the agenda of the justice committee in the new Parliament.”

UPDATE: The following Acts were given Royal Assent before prorogation: Finance (No. 2) Act, Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act, Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Act, Media Act, Pet Abduction Act, Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act, Building Societies Act 1986 (Amendment) Act, British Nationality (Irish Citizens) Act, Zoological Society of London (Leases) Act, Victims and Prisoners Act, and Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act.

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