Back to Blog

Some light at the end of the tunnel?

In what looked to be a troubling course of events for those on the roads and not on four wheels there is finally some good news.

The Civil Liabilities Bill, introduced in the House of Lord in March 2018 after reforms were first announced in November 2015, came to the end of its Committee Stage this week and brought with it the welcome news that cyclists and other vulnerable road users (VRUs) are to be exempt from proposed whiplash reforms.

This is of course welcome news to many after weeks of pleading that the Government apply common sense. These reforms to whiplash claims have been introduced to combat what the Government has described as the rise of the UK’s “compensation culture”. This being despite the fact the just two days before the 2nd reading of the bill began the Compensation Recovery Unit announced that PI motor claims were at their lowest for 9 years having seen a year on year reduction of 12%.

There has been understandable outcry from cycling groups around the country who said that cyclist were being unfairly swept up by the proposed reforms. Olympian and British Cycling policy adviser Chris Boardman said:

“It will now become almost impossible for cyclists to get legal representation without sacrificing a significant proportion of the compensation that they would be entitled to and I appeal to the government to rethink this approach.”

On the point of whiplash injuries specifically and arguments about fraudulent claim Andrew Twambley, Spokesperson for lobbying group Access to Justice, said

“We never see VRUs claiming for whiplash because they never sustain these types of injuries in accidents on our roads. Neither is there any evidence that these groups submit fraudulent or frivolous claims, so it is baffling that ministers want to penalise them.”

A recent client of the Twisted Spokes team, Miss L, was involved in a cycling RTA in which she sustained injuries including injury to her knees, neck, and spine in addition to suffering traumatic shock. Miss L required physiotherapy treatment and her case eventually settled for just over £4,800.00.

If not for this exemption thousands of cyclists like her who had not suffered a whiplash type injury would mostly go unrepresented by lawyers with fees on claims under £5,000.00 not being recoverable. 

Whilst the example may appear somewhat redundant with the amendment to the Civil Liability Bill having been made I use it to highlight the importance of the exemption. The fact of the matter is that cyclists face a greater risk on the roads and they should not be punished for being involved in an accident that wasn’t their fault.

We of course welcome this amendment but there is still a long way to go. Cyclists (like Miss L) and other VRUs will still be caught in the increase to the small claims limit, set to rise to £5,000.00 from £2,000.00 – although Justice Minister Lord Keen assures us that litigants in person will have no trouble navigating the pre-action protocol when such claims are relegated to the Small Claims Court. 

There are also still a great many issues with the Civil Liabilities Bill itself which is a win for the insurance companies alone at the expense of the innocently injured. Ultimately these reforms demonstrate another attempt by this Government to do justice on the cheap with the effects being felt by those who need professional legal advice but cannot afford it.

Here’s hoping that with a lot more lobbying to be done before April 2019, when the Government aims to have these changes in place that further progress can be made.

Share this