|Tue 23rd October 2018||
Civil Liability Bill [Lords]
3rd reading: House of Commons
Report stage: House of Commons
|36 interactions (1,639 words)|
|Tue 4th September 2018||
Civil Liability Bill [Lords]
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
Programme motion: House of Commons
|11 interactions (1,038 words)|
Civil Liability Bill [Lords] DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Kwasi KwartengMain Page: Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative - Spelthorne)
My hon. Friend, who knows far more about these matters than I do—and more, I suspect, than many on the Government Front Bench—is quite right. He draws attention to the fact that there is no logic in the system.
I feel a bit sorry for the Minister as he has to push these proposals forward; he is normally a very logical and fair man. It is difficult to speak at the Dispatch Box having been given a brief of this quality. When parliamentarians of his stature and of the stature of the hon. Member for Cheltenham, with his spurious points about special damages, are reduced to this level, and when Government Back-Bench Members are hauled in here, as we saw in the previous debate, to make speeches only to be told to stop making them because they are talking such arrant nonsense, one does despair. I hope even at the 11th hour that the Government might take pity on us, listen to the wise voices in the other place and support us on these amendments.
My hon. Friend has made an amusing start to his speech. Is it not strange that while the number of traffic accidents has gone down, the proportion of whiplash claims has gone up? Is it that our necks have become flimsier? What does he put this down to? Do we not need to seriously address this issue, as we are doing in the Bill?
Does my hon. Friend accept that there is also the serious issue of asymmetry of information? In the case of injuries lasting less than six months, it is very difficult to prove through any medical means whether or not the injuries occurred, and therefore very difficult to defend against the claim.
It is entirely reasonable to set a tariff on these claims. The average taxpayer and the average person who has insurance does not want to see fraudulent claims. Let us review some of the evidence. We have anecdotal evidence. Even on Second Reading Members were suggesting they were getting texts the whole time encouraging them to make specious claims. Some Members read out the texts they were receiving from insurance companies, or from claimants who were making a great deal of money, to encourage people to make spurious claims. This is going on and to pretend otherwise is wilfully naïve.
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My hon. Friend is making some fair points. He says that this is not necessarily a role for judges, but would he conclude that while it may well be, as Lord Brown said in the other place, appropriate for Government to legislate for tariff-isation as a matter of policy, the views of the judges must be fully taken into account by way of consultation in setting what the level or quantum of that tariff should be and how it should operate and what practical impacts it should have?
Does my hon. Friend agree that the logic of his position, which I understand, is that if we are to have credibility in taking this policy decision, those savings must actually be passed on to motorists? Does he recognise that there has been some cynicism about that in the past? We need to have mechanisms to measure very carefully that the insurance industry comes up to the mark, because it has not always had a terribly good track record in the past on that?
Is my hon. Friend aware that, according to statistics from the ABI, the myth about profit-making by insurance companies is a little bit overstated, and that motor insurers are actually not making a profit? The figures are being conflated with those of other parts of the insurance industry.
It is a pleasure to contribute to the debate, and I am proud to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng). I freely admit that having a tariff system in place could well result in some people receiving less compensation, but that is exactly why I support the Bill. At its heart lies an acknowledgement by those on this side of the House that insurance premiums have got too expensive and that we have to look at measures to try to reduce them.
Let us look at the logic of the position. Cars now have much safer designs and there are fewer claims overall, yet we are seeing an extra 200,000 category claims, 85% of which relate to whiplash compensation. It strikes me as completely illogical to state that there is not an issue here, when the statistics are so counter-intuitive. Something very strange is going on. The analysis shows that it is impossible to ascertain whether these extra claims are genuine, because the nature of the legal system means that it is much cheaper to settle a case and never even consider any medical evidence or reports on whether there has been an injury. To a certain extent, we could say that that is no skin off the bone for the insurers, because the cost is always paid on to the consumer. I am surprised at the Opposition’s attitude in that regard because this is one of the principles that benefits the many—those who have to pay the insurance, which is mandatory—versus the few who abuse the system. I believe that the Bill is needed.
My hon. Friend is spot on. In the seven years before I came to this place, I managed the legal team that was unwinding the Lehman Brothers estate. In many instances, we looked to sue, but of course, we considered the cost of the claim and then worked out whether settlement was a better option. Settlement should always be a better option. For someone running a business, it will always be the better option if it is cheaper to settle than to pursue. All businesses operate in that manner.
It is all well and good for the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Bambos Charalambous), who is no longer in his place, to say that there should be a duty on insurers to take those cases forward, but they will not because it is not cost-effective. In addition, it is difficult to disprove those particular injuries.
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I lack my right hon. Friend’s longevity in this place to make such historical references, but it would strike anyone as common sense to look after the bulk of our constituents—our voters—by making sure they have more money in their pocket. We should all subscribe to that.
My hon. Friend is right. Britain is the leading country in the European Union when it comes to insurance. The top 10 insurers are based in London, and I celebrate this international market.
Of course, the insurance industry is very critical of the Conservative party for introducing and increasing the insurance premium tax, so any suggestion that this party does everything the insurance industry would like us to do is not backed up by our decisions.
It is undoubtedly the case that our cars are now much safer and that design and technology mean that injuries should not be as prevalent as we are seeing. We have also seen the growth of claims management companies, which have driven and fuelled claims. Sometimes we see such industries moving on from one sector to take advantage of another—holiday insurance is a good example; the claims management companies have already moved into that sphere. Equally, I would like to see more done with technology to address the ability of such companies to contact me and my constituents directly. People register with BT in order not to receive unsolicited calls, yet such calls still come through regularly. I hope that the technology will eventually keep pace and close down such calls.
I have made my points more than once, and I absolutely support the Bill. Although I can see that the Opposition’s intentions are good, if the amendment were accepted, it would drive a coach and horses through the very intention of this Bill, which is to reduce premiums for all our constituents and to make it easier for them to manage and live their lives.
Although I originally studied law and was called to the Bar, I never practised, so I hope I may speak in the debate without being tied to any particular interest. This debate is increasingly showing a division between those on the side of personal injury practitioners, and those on the side of the overwhelming majority of our constituents who face the costs arising from an ever-escalating number of claims, of escalating value, for relatively minor injuries. My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) was right to draw the House’s attention to the remarks of the former Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw. If my memory serves correctly, he told The Law Society Gazette that he was in favour of banning compensation for soft tissue injury altogether. Clearly the Bill does not go anywhere near as far as that.
Reading through The Law Society Gazette, I see that Jack Straw’s actual comment was:
“Whiplash is an innovation of fertile legal minds which has no real foundation in medical knowledge. Everybody knows the vast majority of whiplash claims are completely unjustified. I support any measures to eliminate soft-tissue injuries.”
I understand that he was referring to compensation for soft tissue injuries, rather than eliminating the injuries altogether.
Hon. Members have spoken about the apparent paradox when we have the long-term reduction in the number of road traffic accidents, the increasing safety of more of the cars on the road and the long-term reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries as a result of road traffic accidents, and yet the number of personal injury claims for whiplash and other minor injuries having increased significantly—it has gone up by 30% in 12 years. That enormous statistical increase cannot be dismissed as coincidental.
It has been suggested that the idea of a compensation culture is more about perception than reality, but how many of us have not had regular phone calls inviting us to claim for an accident that we have not had, encouraging us with the idea that a fortune was surely around the corner if only we referred the case to the firm that was ringing us up. I have no problem with solicitors—some of my best friends are solicitors, as they say. Indeed, many years ago my wife worked with one of the country’s leading personal injury solicitors’ firms, mostly doing administration on road traffic accident claims. But we need to look at the state we are now in. All the empirical evidence suggests that the initial intentions behind addressing no-win, no-fee claims for personal injuries have generated a spiralling increase in claims that are not the result of pecuniary loss—they are about not loss of earnings or quantifiable losses, but a figure being placed on pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
Previous studies have suggested that, contrary to what others have been saying, the amounts awarded by courts in England and Wales are significantly higher than those awarded in most other European jurisdictions for personal injury claims. When there is a serious injury, especially if the effects are permanent or long-lasting, or even if it results in disability, clearly no one disputes that it is right that there is compensation, especially for the loss of opportunity and amenity caused by that injury. However, shorter-term soft-tissue injuries do not really fall within that category. That is why it is proportionate for the Bill to introduce a tariff that sets out the amounts payable for certain categories of minor, non-permanent injuries.
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The Minister, as ever, speaks straight to the point that bringing this system in line with the criminal injuries compensation scheme is actually making parallel systems more consistent, and it is entirely logical that they should operate on similar tariff-based systems. One of the flaws in the current system is that, as the Judicial College is setting its guidelines, the awards it uses for deciding the amounts in the guidelines are not the overall amounts that are payable in the event of a road traffic accident leading to personal injury, but are based on the awards made by the court in the relatively small proportion of claims that proceed to trial and are then adjudicated by a judge. The system does not consider the very large number of claims that are settled at an earlier date when the figure would tend to be lower.
Clearly, cases that proceed to full trial are more likely to be the more complex ones. This has the effect of institutionalising an inflationary element within the guidelines as they are reviewed, because the review is only ever based on those types of claim that actually end up being the higher awards anyway. It can only ever lead to an increasing amount. The impact of that falls clearly on our constituents. We rightly insist on mandatory motor insurance. As hon. Members have said, motor insurance premiums increase rapidly. One reason why they increase rapidly is that there has recently been a large increase in the average amounts paid out for personal injury claims. If we fail to take this sensible action, those amounts can only increase, and we can expect premiums to continue to increase at around 10% annually, quickly putting them out of reach.
Absolutely. Although I tend to argue for a slightly slimmer role for the Government, I do think that there is a place for them in this regard. When we insist on mandatory motor insurance, there is a clear role for the Government in ensuring that pressures on the price of that mandatory insurance are kept under control as much as possible. Having the Lord Chancellor’s oversight of the tariffs is one way in which we can ensure that the people who are already struggling with the escalating costs of motor insurance do not see them taken even further out of reach.
There is a clear risk of a serious moral hazard when it comes to escalating motor insurance. The more that premiums increase, the greater the risk—the greater the temptation, we might say—for some people to take the chance to illegally fail to take out motor insurance and to drive on our roads uninsured, with everything that that implies for safety and for coverage of third parties. Given the current high levels of motor insurance premiums, research suggests that around a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds have been tempted to try to make savings by not taking out or not renewing their motor insurance policy—driving without insurance. Surely that number can only increase if the cost of motor insurance becomes ever more expensive and increases by far more than inflation or incomes.
As the real cost of motor insurance spirals, more people will be tempted to take the risk of driving without insurance, and young people are more vulnerable to this by far because their premiums are already so much higher. Such behaviour puts other people’s safety at risk and leaves them in an even more difficult situation in the event that they need to make a claim. The number of claims against uninsured drivers increased significantly last year.
The measures in the Bill are designed to keep insurance premiums under control, which is essential if we are to have a functioning motor insurance system. That is why I am not able to support the amendment, why I shall be supporting the Bill, and why I believe that the tariff system for minor injuries is absolutely necessary and must be retained in this legislation.
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This is a very interesting point, and I am very happy to follow up on it in more detail. The nature of the regulation in each case is quite distinct. In relation to the insurance industry, the regulation proposed is to ensure that we have the financial information to prove that the savings the insurance industry has derived from these reforms are passed on to customers. In the case of the claims management companies, the regulation is to ensure that they comply with the law, particularly the legal changes introduced by previous legislation. In accordance with the suggestions from the Justice Committee, we are also looking at the advice forthcoming from the judiciary to ensure that we can deal with other issues involving claims management companies.
If I may, I will come back to the core of the Bill. We are dealing with a perfect storm of three things. First, at the minor end of whiplash injuries—the three-to-six-month end—this is a condition that, in effect, is unverifiable and difficult to disprove. The polite way of expressing this is to say that there is an asymmetry of information. Somebody suffering a whiplash injury will experience genuine and sincere pain, but that pain cannot be detected at the minor end through any medical instruments. That is the first challenge involved in this type of injury.
The second challenge is of course the level of payments offered to individuals suffering these injuries. The third is the level of recoverable costs which meant, in effect, that a no win, no fee process was operating in which people could apply to a lawyer to represent them and be confident that the legal costs would be recoverable from the defendant. When that is connected to the fact that for all the reasons I have given—particularly the first, asymmetry of information—the insurance companies are not contesting claims, we end up with a discrepancy rapidly emerging between the number of motor vehicle accidents and the number of claims, and between the number of claims made in the United Kingdom and the number made in other jurisdictions.
Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, a former justice of the Supreme Court, stated that he was
“reluctantly persuaded that this provision is justified: it is surely intolerable that we are known as the whiplash capital of the world, so I have concluded that it is open to government, as a matter of policy, to seek to deter dishonest claims in this way.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 12 June 2018; Vol. 791, c. 1603.]
It is a sensitive issue, because of course many individuals who have even quite a minor road accident experience a whiplash injury and have significant pain, particularly in the soft tissue of the neck and shoulders, which can last three to six months in the majority of cases or longer in a minority of cases. However, the New England Journal of Medicine, which conducted a significant study across various countries, concluded that the prognosis for a whiplash injury was significantly worse in countries in which compensation existed. In other words, there appears to be some form of medical relationship between the compensation offered and the prognosis for the whiplash injury.
How that relationship operates is a matter of speculation, but the following things may explain it. First, compensation payments and the encouragement provided by claims management companies, particularly on the telephone—we have heard a great deal of anecdotal evidence about that today—could encourage individuals to make claims that they may not themselves feel are as justified as the claims management companies imply. That leads to serious problems, the first of which is moral. It is a problem of dishonesty. In effect, it appears that some people—we do not know how many, but certainly a significant minority—are being encouraged to make dishonest insurance claims. As hon. Members have pointed out, that is potentially morally corrosive to our society. We do not want to encourage a system in which people feel that they can make such claims.
The second problem is that the situation has had a disproportionate impact on court time. Lord Faulks has said:
“If there was to be a reduction for really serious injuries, I can imagine why noble Lords would baulk at the imposition of a tariff. However, we are for the most part talking about pain and discomfort of a relatively transient nature…So these reforms—quite modest though they are—are a proper response to what I would describe as a racket.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 12 June 2018; Vol. 791, c. 1607.]
The cost to society imposed by this compensation is disproportionate to the severity of injury.
Civil Liability Bill [Lords] DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Kwasi KwartengMain Page: Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative - Spelthorne)
I will give way in a moment. The hon. Member for Jarrow also said that judges have decided that injuries—[Interruption.] I am grateful for the heckling from my own side. The hon. Member for Jarrow said that judges had made these compensation awards, but of course that is not true: under qualified one-way costs shifting, insurance companies have a massive financial incentive to settle even claims without merit before they go to court, because even if they win they pay the costs and the costs are often much bigger than the value of the claim. So insurance companies simply settle the claim without a medical examination and without it ever going to court. Therefore, all these compensation claims have not been adjudicated by a judge, although the hon. Gentleman erroneously suggested that they had; they are simply settled immediately because that is the cheapest way of doing it. There is no judicial intervention in almost any of these cases.
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill), the Chair of the Justice Committee, of which I am a member. I welcome his excellent points about our inquiry on this subject, but I do not speak with that hat on.
I co-chair the all-party parliamentary group on cycling, and we are working to shift the transport climate in this country so that more people more often feel safe and able to cycle as a normal means of transport. The Government have said they share that objective because they recognise that having more people cycling improves health and reduces congestion, pollution and costs, but I am concerned that many Conservative Members who have spoken in this debate have generally focused on car drivers and have not appeared to acknowledge that all their constituents are pedestrians at times, that many of them cycle and that many do not drive at all.
My contribution will focus on how those riding cycles, and other vulnerable road users not in a motor vehicle, such as pedestrians and motorcyclists, are affected by this Bill. I was pleased to hear the Justice Secretary indicating that the Government have accepted the recommendation of the Justice Committee and many others to drop the proposal to increase the small claims track limit—the SCL—for personal injury cases from £1,000 to £5,000 for all road traffic collision claims from vulnerable road users. However, I need some clarity on that from the Minister and will be listening carefully to his summing up. First, do the Government mean that vulnerable road users will be excluded from both the tariff and the small claims limit measures? Secondly, I am looking for clarity on how the changes will happen. Will this be through amendments to the Bill in Committee or through statutory instruments?
Notwithstanding my welcoming of the general principle of what the Justice Secretary said and my questions seeking clarity on that, I will continue with my now somewhat revised speech, so that my focus on and concern for vulnerable road users is on the public record.
The Government continue to propose to increase the SCL to £5,000 for all road traffic collision claims, apart from those from vulnerable road users, as we have heard in this debate, although it is also proposed to raise public and employer liability claims limits to £2,000. So there will still be inconsistency among claimants depending on whether the claim is for personal injury or it is a public or employer liability claim. Without change, the Bill would have affected approximately 70% of cyclists’ personal injury claims, and a similar percentage of motorcyclists’ claims, for general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as many of those—70%—are for less than £5,000. We can assume that for pedestrians the figure is roughly the same, although we do not have the figure. That is why I want to see exactly what the Government mean by removing vulnerable road users from the Bill. VRU claims make up a very small percentage both of all claims and of the total cost of all claims, so doing the right thing will not cost very much.
I wish to focus on three issues, the first of which is the complexity of VRU personal injury claims. The Government repeatedly say that small claims are straightforward and can be achieved without professional support, but often that is not so in the case of road traffic collision claims made by cyclists. Many cyclists’ claims will involve complex arguments concerning what can appear to be conflicting Highway Code rules; there are 14 different rules on junction priority, for example. Even where liability is accepted, contributory negligence arguments are commonly made in courts; arguments are made about a cyclist’s clothing, their position on the road, whether they had their lights on and so on. In pedestrians’ claims, issues are often raised, either in terms of liability or contributory negligence, about where the pedestrian crossed the road; subjective issues also arise, such as whether they took sufficient care for their own safety.
Secondly, I wonder whether one reason the Government are now removing VRUs from the changes is that these road users do not get whiplash injuries and do not make fraudulent claims for whiplash—such claims purportedly being one reason for this Bill. That is because it is almost impossible to get whiplash when on a bike or on foot; those road users generally tend to suffer from broken bones and punctured lungs.
Without these changes being offered today by the Government, we would have had fewer victims of road traffic collisions who were not travelling in a car making a claim. That would have meant a win-win for insurance companies and dangerous drivers, which is unacceptable. Although I am pleased to hear that the Justice Secretary has recognised the concerns of organisations representing vulnerable users—cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and so on—by taking them out of the SCL rate, I still have a concern about the Bill, and it is one raised by other Opposition Members today. It would be fairer to have a uniform small claims limit for all personal injury cases, at or only slightly above the current £1,000 limit. That would achieve the Justice Secretary’s aims of excluding vulnerable road users in a straightforward manner and would also ensure fairness for all road users, regardless of their mode of transport.
The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Andy Slaughter) said that, at £250 million a year, the insurance industry was making excessive profits. Bearing in mind that there are 25 million cars in the UK, that works out at a profit of £10 per insurance policy. That is hardly profiteering, is it?
One of the fundamental principles of the legal system in England and Wales is equality before the law. This Bill skews things even further in favour of the insurance industry at the expense of the general public. It is yet another attempt by the Government to deny access to justice. It is an attack on victims of accidents at work and victims of road traffic accidents.
The insurance industry has been successful in lobbying the Government and already has a huge advantage over the general public thanks to various enactments by previous Conservative-led Governments. In 2012, the Government passed the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which took away legal aid for all personal injury claims and introduced fixed fees, with some costs having to come out of claimants’ damages. In 2015, the Government passed the Criminal Justice and Courts Act, which introduced the “fundamental dishonesty” defence allowing defendant insurance companies to have a claim dismissed if, on the balance of probabilities, the judge was convinced that the claim was fraudulent.
The insurers also set up “askCUE”—Claims and Underwriting Exchange— which, for a fee, can find those who are repeat claimants. The insurers also fund a unit at City of London police to help detect and prosecute fraudulent claims. Insurers have amassed quite an arsenal of weaponry to use against fraudulent claims, but they tell us that this is not enough and that there is widespread insurance fraud. I have yet to see any reliable figures that support that.
In the cases of people who are willing to enter into a criminal enterprise with those companies, we should be going after the claims management companies. I would support targeting those, but not at the expense of attacking the public with the measures in this Bill.
Included in their figures of alleged fraud are people who have withdrawn their claims and those who have had their claims refused over the phone. Figures from the Government’s own Compensation Recovery Unit show that claims are at their lowest since 2009. Government measures are already working and the insurance industry is settling 99% of all road accident claims. This Bill and its measures are totally unnecessary and unwarranted.
As hon. Members have already stated, the increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £2,000 generally, and to £5,000 for road traffic accidents, is scandalous. If the Bill passes, claims for the same injury suffered by the same person will be treated differently because it occurred when in a car. How is that equality before the law? We should not forget that claimants are the innocent parties and would be suing someone for the negligence that caused their injury. If claimants are not able to secure the services of a solicitor, they may not succeed in their claim. That will deprive them of damages to which they should be entitled, and may well make things difficult. For example, an employee suing their employer for accident at work would find it very hard to do so without a solicitor.
Clause 1 of the Bill tries to define what a whiplash injury is, but seems to have done so without any medical references. It says that an injury is defined as whiplash if it is a “tear” or “rupture”
“of a muscle, tendon or ligament”.
This clumsy attempt to define whiplash fails to take into account the fact that many of these injuries can be debilitating, requiring serious and complex medical treatment. The definition also unfairly captures serious injuries that could result in the victim not receiving the proper compensation they are due.
Clause 3 then goes on to say that the Lord Chancellor will set the tariffs for compensation for whiplash claims. The draft tariffs seem to have been plucked out of thin air. There is no rhyme or reason when compared with the figures currently set by the Judicial College or the Government’s own figures for the criminal injuries compensation scheme. Under the current criminal injuries compensation scheme, if someone was hit by a driver who was then convicted of a criminal offence, and if they suffered whiplash for over 13 weeks, their claim would be worth £1,000; the Government would pay the claimant £1,000. Under the current proposals in the Bill, a claim for a whiplash injury of between three to six months recovery would be worth only £470. Why are the Government allowing insurers to pay less than half of what would be paid by the Government? The inconsistency is staggering and shows just how much the Government are willing to please insurers.
It should not be left up to the Lord Chancellor to set these tariffs. No explanation has been given for how these figures have been reached. It should be for the judiciary to set the tariffs, as they have daily experience of dealing with such evidence-based claims in court. If the Lord Chancellor is allowed to set these tariffs, figures for whiplash will be unlikely to rise if past performance of the criminal injuries compensation scheme is anything to go by.
Under the criminal injuries compensation scheme, a claim for a whiplash injury from which the victim took six to 13 weeks to recover was set at £1,000 in 1995. These figures have been revised twice—in 2001 and 2008—and the compensation rate of £1,000 remained unchanged despite inflation. In 2012, whiplash claims of six to 13 weeks were removed altogether, and the rate of £1,000 was available only for claims of over 13 weeks. If the figure of £1,000 had been index linked to the retail prices index since 1995, a whiplash claim under the scheme would have been worth £2,780.30 in today’s money.
Let me turn to part 2 of the Bill. Last year, the Justice Committee produced a report on the discount rate. The discount rate applies only to large awards of damages for victims who have suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries that leave them in need of constant care, adaptations to their home and additional support. The Justice Committee recommended the setting up of an independent expert panel to advise the Lord Chancellor on setting the rate and said that the panel’s advice should be published in full. I can see no reason why the Government are trying to restrict the transparency of this process, and I invite them to amend this measure. I think we would all agree that the rate needs to be reviewed more frequently than it has been over a number of years, but three years is far better than five years, as it would ensure far fewer fluctuations in the figure.
It is also deeply concerning that the Lord Chancellor can take into account other factors than those defined by the Bill when setting the rate. This wide discretion opens up the setting of the rate to potential lobbying that could adversely impact the compensation of those who have suffered severe, catastrophic injuries. It is also worth noting that for the purposes of setting the discounted rate, the Bill changes the level of risk of an investment from “very low” to “low”. The lump sum to be invested is there to last for a victim’s entire life, so reducing the level of risk of the investment in setting the discounted rate is concerning, and it has not been properly explained.
This Bill does nothing for the innocent victims of personal injury. It is littered with inconsistencies, has parts that do not stand up to scrutiny, and loads the dice in favour of the insurance companies. The Bill will result in innocent victims of road traffic accidents being penalised because the insurance companies are unable to deal with the alleged whiplash fraud, which they cannot properly quantify. It is shameful that the Government have indulged the insurance companies to such a degree, to the detriment of innocent, law-abiding people. This Bill puts profit before people, restricts access to justice, and creates further inequality before the law. The basic principle that underpins our system of justice is being undermined. This Bill is plainly and simply unjust.