Progress is forthcoming in respect of small claims track reform for personal injury claims, meaning that the Civil Liability Bill may also be picking speed.
Following the deadline in December for written submissions, the Justice Committee have confirmed that an oral evidence session will take place on 16 January 2018 discussing the ongoing Whiplash Reform Programme.
In a written statement to the Committee in advance of the session, Lord Keen QC, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice in the House of Lords, has confirmed that the "this short inquiry will focus in particular on the secondary legislative measure to increase the small claims limit for road traffic related personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000, and for all other personal injury claims from £1,000 to £2,000."
Lord Keen also confirmed that the Government has established working groups with appropriate stakeholders to consider five key issues arising from the proposed changes:
- Overall strategic direction – to identify the work necessary to support the overall implementation programme;
- Guidance and support – to review and assess the current level of guidance available within the small claims court;
- Legal issues – to assess the current rules and protocols in advance of necessary amendments for the new process.
- Liability – to deal with how liability is currently resolved, and to establish a new process for resolving disputes in the new system;
- IT – to develop accessible systems for all (including litigants in person) post implementation;
Discussions on the new online court, the needs of those who cannot access such an online system, and also litigations-in-person – given that the new system may well increase numbers – are also underway.
The one-off session will take place next Tuesday (16 January 2018), and will take submissions from a limited number of witnesses including Lord Keen, Mrs Justice Simler and His Honour Judge Nigel Bird.
It is apparent that the Government remains committed to the proposed changes and is taking preparatory steps, but once again it remains unclear as to when the Civil Liability Bill will be enacted.