Developments in the sphere of insurance and claims handling have been somewhat quieter this month:
The MoJ consultation on the provision of medical reports in RTA related low value personal injury claims closed, and reports are emerging on some of the responses.
The Justice Committee's inquiry into Court and Tribunal Reforms is ongoing, holding its first oral evidence session last week; and a new Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill commenced in the House of Lords a week earlier.
The MoJ has put forward proposals to amend the Fatal Accident Act 1976 to extend bereavement damages to co-habiting couples, rectifying the incompatibility of the relevant provision with the ECHR, identified by the Court of Appeal in Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & Ors in 2017.
The month has ended with First4Lawyers’ annual state of the market survey, reported on by Legal Futures with the headline opinion that the Civil Liability Act reforms are likely to lead to a sharp contraction in the personal injury market.
We look at these developments below, along with our usual round up of forthcoming cases, and other issues on the horizon.
Local authority: protection from harassment. The Court of Appeal in CN v Poole Borough Council held that a local authority owed no duty of care in the exercise of its social services child protection functions, to protect two children from harassment by a neighbouring family. The Supreme Court heard the appeal on 16/17 July 2018 and judgment is still awaited. Read more on the Court of Appeal decision in our update from December 2017.
Asbestos related disease: disclosure. The appeal in Cape Intermediate Ltd v Dring (for and on behalf of Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK) took place on 18 and 19 February 2019 and judgment is awaited. At the previous hearings, the issue was the extent to which the court should grant access to documents by non-parties. In December, Litigation Futures reported on the issues involved in the appeal and cross-appeal.
Package holidays: vicarious liability. The appeal in X v Kuoni Travel Ltd was heard on 1 May 2019. The case concerns the extent to which a tour operator can be liable for a sexual assault carried out by an employee of one of its supplier hotels, and the appeal will consider issues around breach of contract and/or Reg 15 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations (SI 1992/3288). Judgment is awaited.
New - The Supreme Court has today (29 May) published (pdf) its Trinity Term hearings which include a couple of cases where we have been awaiting developments:
Update - Non-party costs: insurance companies. In XYZ v Travelers the issue is: where a liability insurer was contractually obliged to indemnify its insured against the costs of defending claims against it by third parties, in what circumstances is it appropriate to make an order pursuant to s.51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 the effect of which is to impose on a liability insurer, an extra-contractual liability to pay those third parties’ costs of bringing the claims? The hearing will take place on 11 June 2019
Update - Solicitors' negligence: measure of loss. In Edwards v Hugh James Ford Simey (a firm)the issues are: in what circumstances is the principle of full compensation engaged? and, to what extent should a court admit evidence which was obtained after the date of settlement of the original claim when determining whether a claimant has suffered loss? The hearing will take place on 25 July 2019.
Update - Supreme Court cases awaiting developments. The permission to appeal applications for March and April have been published. We highlight the new cases below along with the cases awaiting further developments:
Halliburton v Chubb Bermuda Insurance Ltd & Ors – where the Court of Appeal considered whether an arbitrator may accept appointments in multiple references concerning the same or overlapping subject matter, and whether and to what extent he may do so without disclosure.
The vicarious liability case, Various Claimants v Barclays Bank Plc arising from the alleged sexual assaults of employees committed by a doctor in the course of medical examinations carried out at the request of the employer bank.
Doughty Street Chambers reported in March that permission to appeal has been granted in Henderson v Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust on the question of how the illegality defence operates in the law of tort. The case now appears in the recently published permission to appeal lists.
The data leak/vicarious liability case of Various Claimants v Wm Morrisons Supermarket.The central issue at the previous hearings has been whether an employer is liable in damages to those of its current or former employees whose personal and confidential information has been misused by being disclosed on the web by the criminal act of another employee. The case now appears in the recently published permission to appeal lists.
New - Stoffel & Co v Grondona a solicitors' negligence case involving mortgage fraud. Permission to appeal has been granted on ground only: whether the Court of Appeal erred in the application of the Patel v Mirza guidelines. Read more in our update on the Court of Appeal decision last year.
New - 7KBW has reported this month that permission to appeal has been granted to MMI following this month's Court of Appeal decision in Equitas Insurance Ltd v Municipal Mutual Insurance Ltd concerning the 'spiking' of mesothelioma claims in reinsurance claims. Chambers anticipate that the case will be heard in the first half of next year.
Court of Appeal
Update - Professional indemnity insurance: claims notification. An appeal in Euro Pools Plc v Royal and Sun Alliance Plc took place in January. The case concerned indemnities under policies of professional indemnity insurance and issues around claims notification. At first instance the judge gave judgment in favour of the claimant. In a judgment handed down on 13 May the Court of Appeal allowed the insurer's appeal. Read more in this 4 New Square update.
Procedure: service of claim form. An appeal was due to take place in DDM v Al-Zahra (PVT) Hospital & Ors on 19 March and concerns a challenge to the granting of an extension of time for service of a claim form.
Update - Contempt: power to revoke refusal of permission. Zurich Insurance v Romaine concerned the correct approach to the grant of permission to bring committal proceedings in the context of false statements alleged to have been made by a personal injury claimant. In a judgment handed down on 17 May the Court of Appeal allowed the insurer's appeal and held that the judge erred in principle in his approach to the exercise of his discretion as to whether to grant permission to bring committal proceedings. Read more in the Gazette.
Procedure: service defect & technical games. Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Ltd v Woodward & Anor involves an application for retrospective validation of the defective service of a claim form and whether the overriding objective required the defendant to alert his opponent to the mistake. The appeal was heard on 16 May 2019.
New - Motor Insurers' Bureau: RTA on private land. An appeal in Lewis v Tindale, MIB & Secretary of State for Transport took place on 15 & 16 May and was livestreamed on the Court of Appeal YouTube Channel. In a claim brought by a pedestrian against an uninsured driver, where the accident happened on private land, the issues involved looking at the Road Traffic Act in light of Vnuk and subsequent CJEU decisions on the interpretation of the Motor Insurance Directive. Judgment is due to be handed down on 5 June. Read more about the first instance decision in our comprehensive update from last year.
Costs: ATE premiums. The long awaited appeals in Demouilpied v Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and West v Stockport NHS Foundation Trust are due to take place on 18 or 19 June 2019. They concern reasonableness and proportionality in relation to block rated ATE premiums which are still recoverable in clinical negligence claims. The case of Percy v Anderson-Young is a pre-April 2013 RTA case on a similar point. This case is due to be fixed after the appeal in Demouilpied.
The following consultations are currently open
Review of Fixed Recoverable Costs. Jackson LJ published his Review of Fixed Recoverable Costs in July 2017. His recommendations were to extend fixed costs in claims worth up to £100,000 along with the remaining fast track cases not yet subject to FRCs. A consultation on his proposals was expected to follow, but did not materialise throughout 2018. On 28 March 2019 the MoJ finally published its Fixed recoverable costs consultation in which it essentially accepts Sir Rupert's recommendations but with one change: instead of creating a new intermediate track, the MoJ intends to extend the fast track up to £100,000. As hoped, the consultation also includes the proposals for fixed costs in noise induced hearing loss claims and seeks views on the suggested process for dealing with those claims - meaning that we can remove this issue from our "long grass" section. The consultation closes on 6 June 2019. You can read more on the detail of the consultation in Simon Denyer's update last month, Better late than never: Government to press ahead with Jackson proposals on extension of fixed costs, but are the amounts too high?
The following consultations await official responses
If any client wishes to request any DWF consultation responses referred to below they can do so by emailing email@example.com
Motor insurance: implications of ECJ Vnuk ruling for UK legislation. Although the government has never formally responded to its December 2016 consultation Motor Insurance: consideration of the 'Vnuk judgment' we know that its preferred option was for the Motor Insurance Directive to be amended in a way to avoid having to broaden the scope of insurance requirements to reflect the decision in Vnuk. As attention has now turned to the European Commission's proposal to amend the Directive we consider developments below under "Legislation".
Personal injury discount rate: call for evidence. We have previously reported on the a call for evidence seeking up-to-date data and information on a wide range of topics including in particular, investments available to claimants, investment advice provided to claimants, investments made by claimants and model investment portfolios. We also reported on the Government Actuary's Department's technical memorandum setting out the analytical approach they propose to adopt as a part of the first review of the discount rate. As the Lord Chancellor has now (19 March) commenced the first review, we consider developments below under "Also on the horizon".
Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process - Part 2. In February 2017 the government published the first part of its response to its November 2016 consultation, Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process, and has since incorporated its whiplash reforms within the Civil Liability Act 2018. In the meantime, a second part to the consultation response is still awaited and is due to look at the outstanding proposals including, the Insurance Fraud Taskforce recommendations, credit hire and rehabilitation. In July 2018, Part 2 of the consultation response received a mention in the government's response to the Justice Committee's small claims track inquiry with the government confirming that it was "currently working closely with stakeholders including from the insurance industry to take forward the IFT’s recommendations. Detail will be included in Part Two of the response to the whiplash consultation, which will be published shortly." As Simon Denyer pointed out in November's Civil Liability Bill update, we expect the MoJ to turn their attention to their response during 2019.
Review of low value personal injury claims including package holiday claims. In the October 2017 call for evidence on measures to address holiday sickness claims, the MoJ also invited views on low value claims more generally, and asked the Civil Justice Council to consider steps that might be taken to prevent unmeritorious claims and to resolve meritorious ones more quickly and with reduced costs. The outcome of the work done on package holiday claims was the introduction of the new Pre-action protocol for resolution of package travel claims along with fixed costs which came into force in May 2018. In July, the government published a summary of the consultation responses and details of the way forward confirming for the first time that fixed costs would not be extended beyond gastric illness claims. Attention then turned to the review of low value claims more generally. A cross industry working party met for the first time in May 2018 to identify areas of focus including CMCs, fraudulent behaviour, processes, MedCo and expert evidence generally, ADR, the portal, sanctions and technology. The group was due to report on those areas to the CJC in summer 2018. The synopsis of the CJC meeting (opens in pdf) in October 2018 reported that "The final report on Low Value PI Claims was nearing completion and would be ready for the January 2019 meeting." We await further news.
Update – Small claims track increase: medical evidence. On 18 April 2019 the MoJ launched a short consultation on the Future Provision of Medical Reports in Road Traffic Accident related personal injury claims. The consultation seeks views on: expanding MedCo's remit to cover initial medical reports for all road traffic accident related personal injury claims under £5,000; whether to widen the type of medical expert who can be registered on the MedCo system; whether to extend the existing fixed cost medical report regime for medical reports; and the procedure for unrepresented claimants to obtain medical evidence. The consultation closed on 17 May 2019 and so far we have seen reports on the responses from APIL, BIBA and MedCo.
Update - Civil Liability Act: report on savings. During the passage of the Civil Liability Act through parliament, the insurance industry committed to passing on the benefits arising from the reforms to consumers. A provision was therefore added to the Bill requiring insurers to demonstrate whether savings had been passed on. On 21 March, HM Treasury published a consultation seeking views on the draft regulations that will require firms to provide information to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This information will be used in a report by the government which will assess whether firms have passed on the savings. The consultation focuses on the scope of the requirements and methodology for calculating the relevant information. The consultation closed on 3 May 2019 and the Insurance Times has reported on the response from the newly launched Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) who are calling for further reporting requirements and at an earlier date. In the meantime, at the end of last month the ABI reported falling premiums - partly in anticipation of the reforms.
Update - Credit hire: model directions. In June 2017, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee issued a consultation on the "model order for directions to be used in credit hire cases". Acknowledging that the whole area of credit hire "remains a highly contentious area of litigation" the CPRC identified what they see as relatively simple steps that can be taken to narrow the issues and present the judge with the necessary evidence to make a determination. The proposed directions concern witness evidence and disclosure on impecuniosity and the agreement of hire rates. Stakeholders were urged to confer to try to achieve a consensus or risk a solution being imposed. The consultation closed on 1 August 2017 and DWF responded. Although there is no sign of a formal response, we understand that some courts have already adopted them. This month, FOIL reports that in response to an enquiry, the CPRC has confirmed that the work in this area has been delayed due to the weight of other priority work, albeit it does remain on the Committee's agenda.
Default County Court Judgments. At the end of December 2017 the MoJ launched a consultation looking at the processes for money claims issued in the County Court. They have particular interest in views on limiting the circumstances in which an individual can have judgment entered in default against them without their knowledge. DWF submitted a response to highlight the issue of judgment being entered against policyholders in insurance claims when it is an insurer who will ultimately pay the claim – the MoJ had not identified this scenario in its consultation. The consultation closed on 21 February 2018. Last month we also reported having seen in the February 2019 meeting minutes that the Civil Procedure Rule Committee was looking at the construction of CPR r.12.3(1) and the conditions for obtaining judgment in default in the absence of an Acknowledgment of Service. The CPRC issued a short, focused consultation on the issue, which closed on 3 May 2019.
Update - Legal services: insurance and compensation. In March 2018 the SRA launched a consultation on changes to the legal insurance and compensation rules with proposals including limits to the compensation fund and reducing minimum PII cover. The SRA said these changes would give firms more flexibility to choose the right level of insurance to suit their business and clients, while making sure there are still appropriate protections for users of legal services. The consultation closed on 15 June and a response was awaited but in December 2018, the SRA confirmed it had put its proposed reforms on the backburner. Read more in the Gazette, which reported (also in December) that the regulator is unlikely even to discuss a response to the PII issue until spring at the earliest. This month the SRA has published its Annual Review for 2017/18 in which it mentions the consultation saying "we will review all the responses and will decide on our next steps."
Update - Access to Justice: court and tribunal reforms. In January the Justice Committee launched an inquiry into the access to justice implications of the programme of reforms underway in Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), including the increasing use of digital and video technology and the closures of courts and tribunal hearing centres. Submissions were requested by 11 March and the Law Society strongly encouraged members to respond giving particular attention to: the flexible operating hours pilot, the civil money claims online project and court closures. This month the Committee published further written evidence it has received, including from the Association of Her Majesty’s District Judges and on 21 May held its first oral evidence session, reported on by Legal Futures and the Gazette.
Update - Automated vehicles: law commission consultation.On 8 November the Law Commissions of England & Wales and Scotland launched the first of a series of public consultations about crucial reforms which will ensure the country is prepared for the introduction of automated vehicles. Three themes are covered in the preliminary consultation: first, how safety can be assured before automated vehicles are placed on the market, as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance requirements once they are on the road. Second, criminal and civil liability. Finally, the need to adapt road rules for artificial intelligence. The preliminary consultation was due to close on 8 February 2019 but was extended to 18 February 2019. The Law Commission is working to publish the results of the consultation in the coming months, and a final report and recommendations will be published by March 2021. In the meantime at the end of April the ABI held an event on "Automated Vehicles and the future of motor insurance" which it followed up with details of recommendations and next steps towards the development of regulations and detailed guidance.
Update - Motor insurance: amendment of the Motor Insurance Directive. The now infamous decision of the CJEU concerning a Slovenian tractor in Vnuk in September 2014, produced an interpretation of "use of a vehicle", for the purposes of the compulsory motor insurance regime, which was wider than the definition contained within the Road Traffic Act 1988, and thereby set in motion a review of the legislation both in the UK and Europe. In May 2018, the Commission presented proposals to amend the Directive and it came as a surprise when they proposed to adopt the wider definition from Vnuk. In January, we reported that the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament voted for amendments that would revise the Commission's proposal on scope, by proposing to restrict compulsory cover to vehicles "in traffic" defined as being on a public or private road, but not in a closed area inaccessible to the public, as well as exclusions for motorsports and for new vehicles such as Segways and electric bikes. In February, the full Parliament approved the IMCO amendments. Read more on recent developments and next steps in Amy Jeffs' article MID reform – the journey continues as European Parliament points to pragmatic solution. An update from IMCO at the end of April confirmed that Inter-institutional negotiations on the proposal are expected to start during the new legislative term.
New - Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill. On 1 May 2019, the Ministry of Justice announced that the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill had been introduced to the House of Lords. The Bill forms part of the government’s £1 billion court reform programme and will establish a judicially-chaired committee tasked with developing new, simplified rules for online services in civil, family and tribunal proceedings. It would appear to be the Bill that was needed to take forward the Briggs recommendations, taking over from part 2 of the Prisons and Courts Bill, which was dropped when parliament was dissolved in 2017. The second reading of the Bill took place on 14 May when members of the Lords, including two former Lord Chief Justices of England and Wales and a former justice minister, discussed the purpose and key areas of the Bill. In advance of the second reading, both the Law Society and the House of Lords Library produced briefing notes. The Committee stage is due to begin on 10 June. You can keep up to date with progress on the Bill's web page.
Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. This SI, which will be required in the event of a no deal Brexit, introduces a policy change which removes the requirements for the Motor Insurers' Bureau to act as a Compensation Body for UK residents injured in road traffic accidents in the EEA, and to reimburse its foreign counterparts in respect of EU27 visitors in the UK who have been compensated by their ‘home’ Compensation Body. The draft SI had to be approved by both Houses. In February it was approved by the House of Lords but not without them emphasising their regret that UK residents "could be denied access to justice when injured abroad as they will have to make claims for compensation in the country in which the injury occurred rather than being able to appoint a claims representative in the United Kingdom” and flagging the "masterpiece of understatement" regarding the requirement to revert to Green Cards in the absence of a deal (though not strictly part of this SI). In March, the Delegated Legislation Committee approved the draft SI, but again not without concerns about access to justice, and the Opposition did not feel it could support the draft. The SI went on to be approved in the House of Commons by 301 votes to 251. The SI was made on 11 March 2019.
Jersey discount rate: Damages (Jersey) Law. On 26 October 2018, the States Assembly of Jersey launched a consultation on a new legislative approach to setting the discount rate in Jersey, with the lodging of the Draft Damages (Jersey) Law. The draft Law introduces a statutory discount rate for lump sum damages awards and provides a statutory power to award damages by way of PPOs. The Law provides for a dual rate, so that the rate is 0.5% where the compensation award covers a period up to 20 years and 1.8% where the award covers a period of more than 20 years. DWF's Graham Dickinson examined the proposals in this update: The Discount Rate: The Channel Islands lead again. On 29 January, the draft law was debated and the States Assembly unanimously voted to adopt it. In terms of commencement, the report on the draft law (opens in pdf) states "from the date on which the draft Law comes into force – that date being 7 days after registration in the Royal Court if adopted by the States and sanctioned by the Privy Council – a court, including an appeal court, will apply the new provisions." On 26 April the Law has been registered today and came into force on 3 May. See Damages (Jersey) Law 2019.
Guernsey discount rate. We are also following developments in Guernsey where on 27 March, the States of Guernsey approved proposals to bring forward legislation enabling the introduction of a statutory discount rate and PPOs. Read more in the Propositions put forward at the meeting and the policy letter (pdf) of 8 February.
We have also been following progress on two Law Commission draft Bills:
Update - Deprivation of liberty: Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. In 2014 the Law Commission began a review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) under the Mental Capacity Act. The DoLS aim to protect people who lack mental capacity, but who need to be deprived of liberty so they can be given care and treatment in a hospital or care home. In March 2017 the Law Commission published its final report along with a draft Bill. It recommended that the DoLS be repealed and set out a replacement scheme called the Liberty Protection Safeguards. A year later the government responded to the Law Commission's review and in July 2018, the government started the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill in the House of Lords. At the end of last month, the Bill was awaiting Royal Assent which happened on 16 May. The Bill's wepbage contains all of the relevant documents and updates. Counsel, Alex Ruck Keene, has also continued to provide helpful updates on his Mental Capacity Law and Policy blog.
Insurance contract law reform: draft Insurable Interest Bill. In April 2016 the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission published a draft Bill following their review of the issue of Insurable Interest, having previously made proposals for reform in 2008 and 2011. They were asked to return to the issue due to the increased numbers of requests to write policies which include cover for children, cohabitants and to insure ‘key employees’ for substantial amounts. The draft Bill was intended to reflect the proposals set out in the issues paper and the Law Commissions invited comments on the draft Bill by 20 May 2016 with a view to publishing a final draft Bill and report in autumn 2016. The project was then put on hold due to other priorities within the team but in June 2018 the Law Commission published their updated draft legislation. The extended deadline for comments was 31 October 2018. Read more in the Law Commission press release from June 2018.
Also on the horizon...
Personal injury discount rate: first review launched.We have previously reported on the MoJ call for evidence, which closed at the end of January, seeking up-to-date data and information on a wide range of topics including in particular, investments available to claimants, investment advice provided to claimants, investments made by claimants and model investment portfolios. In addition, on 22 January the Government Actuary's Department published a technical memorandum setting out the analytical approach they to adopt as a part of the first review of the discount rate. They were not specifically seeking views on their approach but comments were welcomed by 18 February 2019. On 19 March the Lord Chancellor commenced the first review of the discount rate under the new methodology introduced by Part 2 of the Civil Liability Act 2018. The Lord Chancellor now has 140 days to conduct the review, meaning determination about the rate will be made on or before 5 August 2019. See the Lord Chancellor's written statement, reaction from the ABI, and press coverage in the Insurance Post and the Gazette. The terms of reference for the Treasury (pdf) and the Government Actuary (pdf) are also now available.
Update - Small claims track limit increase. The first mention of the increase in the small claims track limit was in George Osborne's 2015 Autumn Statement. A lot has happened since then, including a Justice Committee inquiry in late 2017, and attempts throughout the passage of the Civil Liability Bill to challenge the proposals and/or incorporate them within the bill. The present position is that whilst not forming part of the Civil Liability Act 2018, it does form an integral part of the reform package which is all due to come into force in April 2020. The plan remains for the limit to be increased to £5,000 for RTA personal injury related claims and to £2,000 for all other types of personal injury claims, and this will be achieved through secondary legislation. On that, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee in its December 2018 meeting discussed the drafting of proposals for rule changes by the June 2019 meeting, before testing of the online process is due to begin in the autumn. It was also agreed that the MoJ would produce a paper for the February 2019 meeting and that a CPRC subcommittee would be formed. Last month, the minutes from the February and March meetings were released and showed that the online process was discussed further with the CPRC questioning the financial limit in mixed PI and non-PI claims, although the paper has not been published. Also last month the MoJ issued its consultation on the provision of medical evidence under the new process, discussed further above under "Consultations". This month the newly launched Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has issued a Call for greater transparency over the small claims portal.
Insurance Fraud. We have for some time been awaiting the government's response to Part 2 of its whiplash consultation which sought views on certain recommendations made by the Insurance Fraud Taskforce in its final report in January 2016. The latest news on that came in the government's response last July to the Justice Committee's small claims track inquiry, confirming that it was "currently working closely with stakeholders including from the insurance industry to take forward the IFT’s recommendations. Detail will be included in Part Two of the response to the whiplash consultation, which will be published shortly." Also last July, the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal launched a consultation on whether to lower the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings to the civil standard, a move which could be seen as a response to the IFT's recommendation to toughen action against dishonest solicitors. As we report above, the SDT has this month responded to the consultation confirming that the change will be made and that the plan is for the new standard to come into force in November. In December 2018, days after an article in the Insurance Post titled The mystery of the missing Insurance Fraud Taskforce report (subscription may be required), the government published its Insurance Fraud Taskforce Report 2017. The report sets out the progress made during 2017 on the original 26 recommendations, acknowledging that some matters had moved on and that the information in the report is accurate as at December 2017. Last month, the FCA published a Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) that it has entered into with the Insurance Fraud Bureau "to provide a formal basis for co-operation in relation to claims management activities, including for the exchange of information and investigative assistance."
Update - MedCo. In November, we reported on news from the Insurance Post (subscription may be required) that Medco had already started consulting over the creation of a 'litigants in person' portal on the back of the government's whiplash reform programme. In December, MedCo published an Audit Progress Update containing a summary (pdf) of key findings from audits undertaken between January 2017 and September 2018. The Gazette reported on the update noting that "just three per cent of companies wanting to diagnose whiplash claims have been given a clean bill of health by auditors". As we report above, MedCo forms a key part of the proposals put forward in the MoJ's recent consultation on the provision of medical evidence for the new small claims track process. This month, MedCo has published a press release (pdf) and its response to the consultation.
Update - Claims Management Regulation. After first being announced in March 2016, following the Carol Brady independent review of claims management regulation, the FCA took over the regulation of claims management companies on 1 April 2019. The FCA did a significant amount of work in preparation for the transfer and produced a comprehensive hub on its website, alongside a useful timeline (pdf) and a number of helpful video guides. Both the Gazette and Legal Futures reported on the new regime with the latter noting a further fall in the number of CMCs. And as we reported above, last month the FCA published a Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) that it has entered into with the Insurance Fraud Bureau. This month, Jonathan Davidson, the FCA’s executive director of supervision, retail and authorisations, has told FTAdviser that visits from the FCA supervisory teams to CMCs are imminent as part of the plan to crack down on "rotten apples".
FCA activity. In addition the work being done in relation to claims management regulation, this month the FCA issued a warning to General Insurance firms about manufacturing, sales and distribution approaches that can lead to customers purchasing inappropriate products, paying excessive prices or receiving poor service. The ABI responded to the report saying that the majority of customers should not be concerned. Later in the month it published its Business Plan for 2019/20. The Insurance Times (subscription may be required) looked at the FCA's priorities for Insurance and we note that they propose to monitor claims inflation and developments in motor claims to see whether there is a case for them to intervene (p.42). Last month, they published a feedback statement following 2018's discussion paper 'A duty of care and potential alternative approaches' and as the Gazette reported, the FCA had gone cold on the idea of a formal 'duty of care'.
Artificial intelligence in insurance and law. On 28 November the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy announced three new 3-year research projects, to be led by Loughborough, Sheffield and Oxford Universities, investigating how businesses can make best use of AI in insurance and law. The projects backed by £3m through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will focus on (1) how AI can be applied to processes such as underwriting and claims processing, speeding up the process for customers (2) how AI can be put to use in legal services bringing academics, lawyers, businesses and programmers together to develop the skills, training and codes of practice to deliver benefits (3) future uncertainties about the roll-out of new AI technologies in accounting and legal services and analysis of potential barriers to AI-based business model innovation. Read more in Legal Futures. In February, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced a project to develop breakthrough artificial intelligence technology for the anti-fraud sector. The artificial intelligence software will combine AI and voice recognition technology to detect and interpret emotion and linguistics to assess the credibility of insurance claims. It is one of a number of projects set to receive funding to enable the UK accountancy, insurance and legal services industries to transform how they operate. One of the other examples is an analysis tool which looks at images collected by drones to assess flood-damaged areas, using a 3D image recognition system to evaluate flood extent and depth alongside impacts on buildings and infrastructure to help with insurance claim assessments. Last month Professor Richard Susskind spoke on the subject of AI at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum on Technology and the legal market. Read more in the Legal Futures article, Susskind: Lawyers wrong to think technology cannot replace them. Last month, Lloyds published two reports on how AI and robots create new risks and opportunities for insurance and society. The Insurance Times looks at the reports in this article (subscription may be required).
Update - Briggs' Civil Courts Structure Review: HMCTS court reform. In July 2016, Lord Justice Briggs published his final report following his review of the structure of the civil courts. The headline recommendation was the introduction of an online court capable of handling claims with a value up to £25,000. A detailed summary can be found in the press release accompanying the report and Simon Denyer analysed the report at the time. The report was commissioned to coincide with and inform a wider, ambitious programme of court reform. An HMCTS webpage sets out the background to, and detail of the reform, along with helpful resources and updates on progress on more than 50 distinct projects. In March, HMCTS announced it was extending the completion date of the reforms by a year to 2023 - see the Gazette and Legal Futures for further comment. March also saw news of the first video hearing featuring two remote litigants, as part of a pilot running in the Manchester County Court. Last month HMCTS reported that its Digital Case System (used in the Crown Court) has saved more than 100 million sheets of paper. Also, as we report above, the Justice Committee's Court and Tribunal Reforms Inquiry is ongoing and this month has seen the launch of the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill.
Riot compensation claims: new guidance. In March, the Chartered Insurance Institute launched a guide for the compensation of claims in the event of a riot. The new guide has been published to make the application of the Riot Compensation Act (RCA) 2016 as clear as possible for those handling claims. The ‘Riot Claims Handling Best Practice Guide' has been created in conjunction with the Home Office, with significant input from the ABI, Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, and the police. It sets out core procedures and technical guidance for handling compensation claims against local policing bodies fore riot damage. Read more in the CII news release which links to the guide and an accompanying report which sets out a high-level model for RCA claims management in the event of a large-scale riot, from preliminary planning stages through to claims handling and ongoing improvements to processes.
McKenzie Friends. The long awaited response (pdf) to the February 2016 consultation on McKenzie Friends was published at the end of February 2019. Whilst remaining "deeply concerned" about the proliferation of fee charging McKenzie Friends, the Judicial Executive Board said this issue should be considered by the government. Their recommendations included support for a Plain Language Guide for LiPs and McKenzie Friends, and that the current Practice Guidance should be updated. Read more in the Gazette. Then in an interesting development in March, an unqualified legal adviser was held to the same standard as a qualified lawyer in relation to a clinical negligence case. Following that decision, the chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee, Bob Neill, repeated his call for a ban on paid McKenzie Friend and Colm Nugent, who was involved in the case wrote an article in The Times calling for action. We await further developments.
LASPO Part 2 post-implementation review: QOCS & DBAs. In February, the MoJ published the outcome of its review, suggesting no change to the essential aspects of the LASPO Part 2 reforms, and resisting arguments from parts of the claimant lobby for further change. The government said it would consider amendments to the DBA Regulations to try to provide an alternative method of funding claims, as well as a possible extension of the QOCS regime beyond injury cases to other types of claim. Read more on the outcome, outstanding issues and next steps in Simon Denyer's February update Government response on LASPO review allows assessment of the current state of the litigation reform process. In March, Dominic Regan reported on Twitter that a report on DBAs is coming proposing new, workable measures. We await further developments.
Update - SRA activity. Last July, we reported that personal injury claims featured in the SRA's risk outlook for 2018/19 as part of a new priority risk: managing claims. In the accompanying press release Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive said, "... For the first time, we are highlighting how claims are managed as a key risk. This follows concerns over issues such as firms failing to properly check on the validity of personal injury claims…" The Autumn Update highlighted that they are still receiving reports of firms paying prohibited referral fees, and concerns that some holiday sickness claims are being submitted without proper analysis. Following the introduction of the new Transparency Rules in December, solicitors were in March warned to expect the scope of the rules to be increased. Personal injury claims are not currently covered by the new rules, so this is an area to keep an eye on. Also in March the SRA announced that its plans to allow solicitors to practise from unregulated firms and enable freelance solicitors to do more will come into effect on 25 November 2019. Last monthboth the Law Society and the Legal Services Consumer Panel (pdf) made submissions to the LSB on the SRA's recent rule change application (pdf) for PII and the Compensation Fund as they are concerned that the proposed rules for freelance solicitors do not provide sufficient protections. Read more in the Gazette and Legal Futures. This month has seen the publication of the SRA's 2017/18 Annual Review, with their press release setting out the key points, and Legal Futures highlighting that the number of law firms shut down by the SRA fell to a 10-year low in 2018, but payouts to victims of dishonest solicitors increased.
In the long grass?
Issues where there has been no activity for some time:
Legal services regulation: removing barriers to competition. In July 2016 the MoJ announced a consultation on proposals to reduce barriers to market entry, and regulatory burdens on Alternative Business Structures in legal services. Lord Faulks’ ministerial statement also mentioned the government’s intention to consider a further consultation on regulatory independence. The current consultation closed on 3 August 2016 but to date there has been no response, although in the interim the Legal Services Board published a report on its research into alternative business structures and investment in legal services. In December 2017, while responding to the CMA Legal Services Market Study, the government confirmed it would not be going ahead with a consultation on regulatory independence as it believes there is scope to make more progress within the existing framework.
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