Posted 25 October 2016 by Donna Scully
Following the post-Brexit Cabinet reshuffle, do you see the reforms proposed by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement being postponed or modified in any way?
We may have had a referendum in June, not a general election. The political complexion of the government may have remained the same but after the tumultuous political events following the Brexit vote, a great deal has changed. It is of course very early days, but the new PM, Theresa May, has purposefully flung away her billing as the ‘continuity candidate’ that was so erroneously assigned to her during the Tory leadership contest. She appears intent on demonstrating that only she will define her premiership, unrestrained by the policy positions of the Cameron/Osborne government that went before.
The MoJ was one of the departments to feel the impact of a clean sweep of new Ministers. The former team of Gove, Raab, Selous and Vara were all casualties of May’s fearless reshuffle that saw around a quarter of ministers sacked. The final casualty was Lord Faulks who resigned, foolishly voicing concerns that the new Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, isn’t a lawyer. Didn’t he spot that that sacred cow had already been slaughtered when he joined the MoJ under Chris Grayling?
So will all of this have an impact on the proposed personal injury reforms? To a large extent, the referendum, and the campaign lead-up, already had. The claims market had largely anticipated that the consultation on the proposed reforms would have appeared in the Spring and feared that rushed legislation might be announced in the Queen’s Speech in May. With a new team and the main advocate for PI reform – Lord Faulks – within the MoJ having departed, some have undoubtedly been optimistic that the reforms will be kicked into the long grass.
I’m afraid I’m more pessimistic. The consultation may not have been published over the summer and we may have to wait for a while yet before it sees the light of day, but I strongly suspect that it’s still coming. The background work has already been done and there are whispers that the consultation is ready to be published. Most Conservative MPs regrettably share the misplaced but prevalent view in the British press that there is a ‘compensation culture’ to be fought. If I’m right that it is probably still coming, I do sincerely hope that MoJ officials will have used this enforced pause to produce a more thoughtful and workable set of reforms, tackling fraud systematically, but preserving justice and avoiding potentially calamitous unintended consequences. As Charlie Chaplin said, you’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.