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Current Consultations

February 2020

Guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers | FCA

On 23 July 2019, the FCA launched a consultation on proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. The guidance sets out the FCA’s view of what is required of firms to ensure that vulnerable consumers are consistently treated fairly across financial services sectors. The guidance will be consulted on in 2 stages. In the first stage the FCA is seeking feedback on, whether the draft guidance covers the right issues and provides the right degree of clarity on what firms should do to improve outcomes for vulnerable customers; the costs and benefits of changes triggered by the guidance; and whether the guidance is sufficient to ensure firms take appropriate action or whether additional intervention is required.
Status: Closed on 4 October 2019. Response expected H1 2020

Fixed recoverable costs consultation

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. On 28 March 2019 the MoJ finally published its consultation which essentially accepted 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 included the proposals for fixed costs in noise induced hearing loss claims, seeking views on the suggested process for dealing with those claims.
Status: closed 6 June 2019. Awaiting government response.

Future Provision of Medical Reports in Road Traffic Accident related personal injury claims

This MoJ consultation, which was launched on 18 April 2019 sought 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.
Status: closed 17 May 2019. Government response published 5 September 2019.

Civil Liability Act report on savings provision

During the passage of the Civil Liability Act 2018 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 this 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.
Status: closed 3 May 2019. Government response published 31 October 2019.

Court and Tribunal Reforms inquiry

In January 2019, the House of Commons Justice Select 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 2019 and the Committee went on to hold oral evidence sessions which concluded in July.
Status: Report published on 31 October 2019. Awaiting Government response.
on 5 November 2019, the Public Accounts Committee also published a progress review on the reforms.

Automated Vehicles | Law Commission

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.
Consultation Paper 1: Three themes were 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.
Status: closed 18 February 2019. Analysis of responses published in June 2019.
Consultation Paper 2: In October, the Law Commissions published proposals on the regulation of highly automated vehicles that operate without a driver. It focused on how completely automated trips might be supplied to the public in vehicles that can travel empty, or only with passengers and no driver or user-in-charge:  Highly Automated Road Passenger Services (HARPS).
Status: closed 3 February 2020. 
A third consultation in 2020 will draw on responses to the previous papers to formulate overarching proposals on the way forward. The Law Commissions are now working on a second consultation paper on automated road passenger services, to be published later this year. Final report and recommendations expected in 2021.

Protecting the users of legal services: balancing cost and access to legal services | SRA

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. 
Status: closed 15 June 2018.
SRA responded: 19 December 2019
confirming they will not be making changes to the current rules requiring solicitors to have a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover.

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 were particularly interested 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.
Status: closed 21 February 2018. 
Amending CPR r.12.3: The February 2019 meeting minutes of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee noted that the 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, and in July confirmed that there would be a rule change to CPR r.12.3 preventing default judgment being entered if an acknowledgment of service or defence is filed before judgment is entered. The new rule will come into force on 6 April 2020. 

Model order for directions to be used in all credit hire cases

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.
Status: closed 1 August 2017.
October 2019: Deferred for consideration alongside whiplash reforms
Update October 2019: The minutes of the October CPRC meeting recorded that the Model Order has now been agreed in principle, but the CPRC are also now conscious that credit hire can no longer be considered in isolation, and that the wider issues need to be considered alongside the whiplash reforms.
Update February 2020: It emerged the above minutes contained an error in that the Model Order had not been agreed, though it is correct that the issue has been deferred as mentioned above. In the meantime though, changes to PD16 (pdf) have been approved. The changes are intended to reinforce the requirement to plead specific matters in credit hire cases, and come into force on 6 April 2020.

Motor Insurance: consideration of the 'Vnuk judgment'

This consultation sought views on options for amending domestic law on motor insurance in light of the judgment from the CJEU in Vnuk. Although the government has never formally responded to its December 2016 consultation 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 in our Legislation section. 
Status: closed 13 April 2017. Awaiting government response.

Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process

In February 2017 the government published the first part of its response to this November 2016 consultation, 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." 
Status: closed 6 January 2017. Government response to Part 1 published February 2017. Response to Part 2 awaited.