The government has dropped the Prisons and Courts Bill, owing to lack of time in the run-up to the General Election on 8 June.
MPs on the Bill Committee this week voted to abandon the controversial Bill, which would have paved the way for online courts, introduced tariffs for whiplash claims, banned settlement of soft tissue injury claims without a doctor’s opinion, reformed prisons and introduced safeguards to protect domestic violence victims being cross-examined by abusive partners in the family courts.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, says:
'The news that the Prisons & Courts Bill has been dropped ahead of the election gives the personal injury industry breathing space but nobody should be celebrating.
There is every chance that a victorious Conservative government would seek to resurrect the reforms in Pt 5 of the Bill. So now it not the time to sit back and relax - the claimant sector needs to work together and keep fighting the myths peddled by the insurers about fraud and the so-called compensation culture.'
'We did not expect the Bill to be pushed through before the election and are pleased it hasn’t as this would have removed the main opportunity to get a fair reform of the discount rate.
Aspects of the whiplash provisions were also unsatisfactory, so it is better these didn’t make it onto the statute book unresolved. The task now is to win the argument for both issues to be dealt with as a priority in the new Parliament so there are no major delays to much needed reform.
Issues like the increased cost of insurance for motorists and businesses and the £6bn bill for the NHS are not going to go away, so the incentives for a new government to act promptly are there.'
Law Society president Robert Bourns said urged the new government elected in June to 'make an absolute priority in re-introducing the proposals providing protection for victims of domestic violence from being cross-examined by their abusers in the family court'.