UK & Europe
We recently reported in our last insight that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is arranging three events this month in order to take views from industry professionals as part of its preparation for issuing a call for evidence on possible options for dual or multiple personal injury discount rates (England & Wales only). In further news about oversight of the discount rate, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) notified stakeholders on 11th November that it is beginning the process of establishing a five-member Expert Panel (EP).
Under the Civil Liability Act 2018 (CLA), the EP will serve as a statutory consultee when the MoJ commences the next review of the rate. The EP will be chaired by the Government Actuary and its four other members will be an actuary, an investment manager, an economist and a consumer investment specialist (the role and functions of the EP are set out in detail in schedule A1 of the Damages Act 1996).
The public appointments notices associated with recruiting each panel member require applications by 2 December 2022 and summarise the time commitment involved as “Approximately 10 meetings throughout 2023/2024” and describe each role as “an exciting opportunity to inform government decision-making in an area which has a tangible impact on citizens in ensuring fair compensation for the victims of life-changing injuries.”
The rate was last set in July 2019 (at -0.25%) and the CLA is very clear that it is up to the Secretary of State for Justice (in his or her role as Lord Chancellor) to decide “when, within the 5-year period following the last review, a review … is to be started.” That effectively sets a longstop of July 2024 for the next review to begin and for this reason, the recent developments really cannot be taken as meaning that the rate review required by the CLA has started.
All that the new activity by MoJ signifies, at most, is that it is at an early stage of preparing for the rate review. Officials will need to allow adequate time for: filing of submissions to the call for evidence (which has not yet formally opened), for analysing those submissions, for scrutinising applications for membership of the EP, and for running the appointment process.
The public appointment notices for the EP roles refer to the appointments being “for the duration of the review, which is subject to a statutory timeline. It is likely to conclude in Autumn/Winter 2024.” This would strongly suggest that the rate review - for which the CLA allows up to 180 days - is unlikely to start much before the July 2024 deadline.