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PI news review

Approaching LASPO's birthday, personal injury professionals are being asked if the reforms are working. In other news, the ABI says auto brakes could slash whiplash stats by 18% and insurers have promised a new PI code of ethics. PremExtra reviews the month's big headlines…

Those in the personal injury profession hoping for a stable set of rules had better search elsewhere after a call from the Civil Justice Council for 'no more than 3000 words by 7th March' was made. The CJC wants feedback from judges, solicitors and other court users in advance of its conference. This news reported in the Law Society Gazette during February followed up on earlier statements from Mr Justice Ramsey, who has promised to 'change Jackson if necessary' and had promised to gather data on the effects of reform which he plans to reveal in April to co-incide with the regime's first anniversary. The expectation is that costs management will feature heavily, but any hope of a reversal of fortunes for claimant parties remains highly unlikely.     

Insurers' PI conduct promise

Meanwhile, the insurance industry has been trying to change the record with a new campaign aimed at side-stepping any perceptions that it has somehow exploited PI claims. In an announcement on 13 February, members of the Association of British Insurers announced a new 'code of conduct' including new standards of customer care such as making policyholders aware when they make a claim that they can appoint any lawyer they like and any links the insurer may have with a recommended provider. They also agreed not to put claimants under any pressure, aiming to resolve as many cases as possible through the claims portal. Paul Evans, CEO of Axa UK, said: "It is members saying we do not want to be accused of exploiting this new environment to our own purposes in a way that would continue to promote the whiplash culture we have lobbied against."

ABI says emergency brakes would cut whiplash 18%

There's a palpable sense that in a few years our cars will be driving themselves. At the moment, the key is to work out which industry group will be driving the issue, so to speak. Right now, it's the insurers, who claim that Autonomous Emergency Braking - currently optional on 23% of new vehicles - should be standard on all cars. The Association of British Insurers told the Future of Road Safety in the UK conference on 25th February that 18% fewer personal injury claims could result. "Even with clear safety benefits, three-quarters of new vehicles available to UK motorists do not have autonomous emergency braking fitted as standard or as an option," said ABI's Motor Policy Adviser, Scott Pendry. "This must change. Fitting this technology as the norm will not only further improve road safety, but will significantly lower insurance costs as AEB is taken into account in the motor insurance group rating system."