The dogs of war

All of you are fine-looking men.

My dogs are desperate to meet you.  

I haven’t fed them in seven days….

-Ramsay Bolton, Winterfell

I have returned from my Easter holidays with a sense that the world is starting to move faster. Today, sees the advent of the French presidential election, where a victory for the National Front would send France and Europe spinning off in a different direction; in the Ukraine armies are fighting a war of ferocity not seen since the Battle of Stalingrad; and our own government amidst the popping corks of Partygate, has crossed a moral Rubicon by  renditioning the poor and desperate to Rwanda, to have their papers checked.

Almost unnoticed amongst these momentous events, last month the government slipped out Part 2 of the Government Response on Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (‘whiplash’) Claims Process This paper is concerned with the further reforms which might take place in the road traffic space, notwithstanding the very recent reforms to the Small Claims limit, the intervention of statute in prescribing a tariff for damages and the introduction of a new portal process. This paper is concerned with what reforms might be made to credit hire claims.

As the paper notes:

25. Views were sought on issues related to the provision of temporary replacement vehicles on credit hire terms (commonly known as credit hire) and the potential options for tackling them. Concerns had previously been raised about this issue from both within and outside the market, in part due to the potential for credit hire costs to impact on the price of motor insurance premiums.

26. The Government’s ‘Call for Evidence’ follows on from work completed by the Competition and Markets Authority in 201413, which completed a full market investigation covering this topic. The issue was also raised in Parliament during consideration of the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 in the House of Lords, when Peers debated the need for all parts of the PI sector, including credit hire firms, medical report providers and claims management companies, to also be regulated14.

27. In the Call for Evidence, multiple options for potential reform were provided and stakeholders were also invited to make suggestions on what else could be done on in this area.

The issues floated were extremely significant: one of the issues was making the GTA mandatory, another involved abolition of the current common law mechanisms for assessing damages in credit hire claims and effectively introducing a tariff based scheme of damages: in effect price fixing of the amount that credit hire companies could charge.

The government’s conclusion?

Since the Government consulted on this topic, work has continued within the industry on reinforcing and revising the voluntary GTA. As well as the GTA many of those operating in the sector have also developed specific streamlined agreements to enable the credit hire process to work effectively for claimants.

The Government is therefore of the view that the best approach would be to continue to work with the key stakeholders in this sector to monitor and improve the use of industry agreements, including the GTA. Further consideration will also be given to whether it would be beneficial to make the use of such agreements’ mandatory in the future. It should however be noted that further action on this point is subject to alignment with future Government priorities as it would require a suitable primary legislative vehicle and Parliamentary time to progress.

It is therefore clear that the undone business from the May administration will not only remain undone, it has been cleverly filed away in the circular filing cabinet, never to see the light of day, unless something changes in the future and the government becomes minded to make available precious parliamentary time, to include further measures in primary legislation. 

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