April 20, 2017

General Election halts whiplash reforms and driverless cars Bills

Theresa May's decision to hold a snap election on 8 June 2017 has placed the future of the whiplash reforms and the driverless cars Bill into question.

Today (20 April 2017) Parliament has confirmed the Prison and Courts Bill, which contains the whiplash reforms, and the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill (driverless cars Bill) will not be pushed through in the 'wash-up' period.

This period refers to the days between the announcement of general election and the dissolution of Parliament, meaning any unfinished Bills will be lost. In order for the continued implementation of the whiplash reforms, which were expected to come into force on 1 October 2018, it is likely a conservative government with decent majority will need to be re-elected.   

Whilst the driverless cars Bill is less contentious than the whiplash reforms, the new Government will need to continue to support this legislation in order for the provision extending motor insurance to automated vehicles to find its way into UK law. Parliament had previously granted a 'carry-over motion' to the Bill, meaning the progress of the Bill would have been considered in the next Parliamentary session. It cannot be assumed this provision will now continue to have effect.

The discount rate consultation and any resultant changes are also likely to be delayed. The consultation is still set to close on 11 May 2017, however the Ministry of Justice and Scottish Government are unlikely to publish their response by 11 August 2017 as previously planned. Decisions regarding changes to the methodology calculating the rate and crucially the rate itself will also suffer delay as a consequence. Insurers are likely to be stuck with the negative discount rate for some time to come.

Regardless of the election result, Brexit will be the new government's main priority, therefore the Bills and the discount rate are likely to take a back seat with the timeline for continued implementation remaining uncertain.