The devil is in the detail

This article first appeared in Modern Insurance Magazine Issue 36, February 2019

As the single most important political and economic decision in many decades, Brexit is rightly dominating the UK’s political discourse right now. Politicians can focus on little else as they grapple with complexities, contradictions, political pressures and their own consciences. Huge swathes of domestic policy making, from health to housing, struggle for attention whilst resources and energy are diverted to the most important issue of the day. Some government departments have been virtually paralyzed as Ministers focus on little else and increasing numbers of their officials are commandeered to work on Brexit-related issues or legislation.

The Ministry of Justice, and specifically, its intention to fundamentally change the landscape of motor accident claims is a relatively rare exception. The Civil Liability Act passed into law just before the debate on Brexit in Parliament exploded so spectacularly. MoJ’s internal resources are undoubtedly stretched but have benefited from outsourcing much of the work on implementation to the insurance industry’s Motor Insurance Bureau. Work is continuing at a pace on the development of the new LiP Portal with the IT developers in place and intensive discussions taking place on the architecture of the new claims process.

Several MASS representatives sit at the heart of this process, forming a robust panel alongside colleagues from APIL and The Law Society, representing the interests of claimants. With continued involvement dependent on confidentiality, I am restricted about how much I can say about the discussions. However, it is clear that there are very many difficult and thorny issues to resolve that are fundamental to the operation of the envisioned new claims process. We will continue to work constructively with MoJ and the insurers, but with the interests of claimants and accident victims always at the forefront of our approach. Whether the challenges still ahead can be overcome in time for the planned April 2020 launch remains to be seen. We are clear that if a delay is necessary to ensure that the new system is fit-for-purpose, then that is what must happen. It is in the interests of no-one to proceed with a poorly implemented, flawed and half-baked process that will have lasting negative effects. So not so different from Brexit after all.

The devil is in the detailThe devil is in the detailPaul Nicholls, author of ‘The devil is in the detail’, has been Chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) since October 2018 and is a Senior Partner at Nicholls Brimble Bhol


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