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Damages for whiplash injuries

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 23rd October 2018.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Conservative, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 3:30 pm, 23rd October 2018

It is a pleasure both to speak in support of the Bill and, unfortunately, against the amendment put forward by Gloria De Piero. It is really important that the Bill is proportionate in achieving the outcomes we want of ensuring that the public get the protection they need from injuries that can be so devastating, while at the same time compensating them in such a way that we do not burden the wider consumer with unsupportable bills. Earlier, I spoke about the fact that premiums need to remain affordable.

Amendment 2 would remove the ability to set a fixed tariff for whiplash compensation in regulations. As I mentioned earlier, the tariff system will ensure that claimants receive a proportionate level of compensation. This will significantly reduce and control the spiralling cost of whiplash claims and disincentivise unmeritorious claims. As with any such tariff system, I can understand the concern that it may not provide the flexibility necessary to ensure that compensation accurately reflects the true nature of someone’s injuries.

However, the Government have taken a number of important steps to ensure that such flexibility still exists. First, the tariff would not be flat for all cases, but staggered, depending on the severity of injury. Secondly, in addition to a tariff payment, all claimants will continue to receive special damages covering compensation for any actual financial losses suffered as a result of their accident. Finally, clause 5 gives the court discretion to deviate from the tariff in exceptional circumstances and when it is clear that a higher level of compensation would be appropriate.

This therefore seems to me to be exactly the type of Bill we should be bringing forward. It is sensible, and it does indeed allow us to provide the protection that people need, without the risk of putting up premiums. I do not believe that amendment 2 would achieve very much, other than wrecking the central point of the Bill, which as I say is to achieve such an upsurge in affordability.