Changes in Civil Liability Bill – an update on progress

Reforms to the Civil Liability Bill were announced on 20 March in respect of whiplash claims. These changes affect the way the discount rate is applied to personal injury settlements.

Lord Chancellor, David Gaulke, says, “the number of whiplash claims has been too high for too long, and is symptomatic of a wider compensation culture” Fixed amounts will be set for compensating whiplash claims and medical evidence will be a mandatory requirement.

Opponents of the bill were disappointed recently when a proposed amendment to remove tariffs for limiting damages was defeated in the House of Lords.  Tariffs will not be left for the judiciary to decide; however, the government has conceded to an amendment to require the lord chancellor to consult the lord chief justice before setting or amending the tariff. It is intended that the tariff will be reviewed within three years and the lord chancellor will be required to report on each review.

The draft order had been criticised for a lack of definition of whiplash.  The bill now defines ‘whiplash injury’ as a sprain, strain, tear or rupture of one or more of the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck or back. The effects may include, but are not limited to, pain in the neck, back, shoulders or arms, reduced mobility in the neck, back or shoulders, headaches, muscle spasms, or a swelling in the neck.

The Third Reading of the Civil Liability Bill in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 27 June.