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The LASPO Bill returned to the House of Commons last night at the start of the ping-pong process, and, as expected, the government successfully overturned the exceptions made in the Lords, writes Mark Savill. As part of the debate, financial privilege was also claimed and so there will be limited areas where the Lords are able to reject the government’s position when it bounces back to them to consider.

The most impassioned debates related to industrial disease and clinical negligence claims, with some harrowing personal stories recounted by MPs.  The government, however, remained unmoved and emphasised the need to make priorities within the system and reduce the costs of litigation.  The reason for the Commons’ rejecting the industrial disease exception (as detailed in the Commons disagreements, reasons, amendments in lieu and amendments to amendments in lieu of an amendment document published today) is that the exception is inappropriate, and financial privilege does appear to have been raised.  This should therefore allow further debate in the Lords.

Jonathan Djanogly MP’s standing appears to have received a knock, as he was seen to be sniggering and joking during the debate around industrial disease. Despite comments being raised, he declined to respond to explain his conduct and has been widely criticised as a result.

Referral fees

In relation to referral fees, except that the amendments made at the Third Reading in relation to third-party payments and claims arising out of “circumstances relating” to personal injury or death were agreed.  The Bill now returns to the Lords next Monday, 23 April.

Outside Parliament, the government’s response to the Transport Select Committee Report is now expected.  The report, published back in January, contained three main proposals:

  • A review of the ability to require external evidence of whiplash when bringing a claim;
  • An extension of the ban on referral fees to other areas beyond personal injury and into hire and repair;
  • Stricter enforcement of data protection laws in relation to passing on customers’ information.

This will lead to confirmation of further action that the government propose to take in this area, and will clarify the next round of reforms that are likely.  In the light of the government’s enthusiasm to control claims in this arena, there are likely to be some interesting developments to debate in our Whiplash 2012 conference next week.