Prison and Courts Bill will not be pushed through before the General Election

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The Prison and Courts Bill will not be pushed through Parliament before it is dissolved next month in preparation for the General Election.

David Lidington, the Leader of the House of Commons, confirmed that the Bill had been scrapped in response to a question from fellow Conservative MP Philip Davies.

“The Prison And Courts bill will fall,” said Lidington. “It was part of a series of bills that were introduced to the House quite late in this current Parliamentary session and received carry-on motions so that they could be debated in what would have been the third session of Parliament.”

It would not, however, he said, be part of the “wash up” of bills that forces through changes before Parliament is dissolved.

Lidington’s admission means that the personal injury claimant community will once again harbour some hope that plans to raise the small claims limit for PI cases and to introduce a tariff system for soft tissue injuries – which were all set out in the Bill – may now not materialise.

With the possibility of a new Lord Chancellor and a Brexit-occupied Government, PI reform may fall down the pecking order of priorities for any new administration.

However, Kieran Jones, insurance partner at Weightmans said that there was nothing in the announcement to suggest that the Government had dropped or abandoned the Prison and Courts Bill, nor that it was now less likely to materialise.

“The decision not to push this, or the Vehicle Technology and Aviation bill, through the so-called ‘wash up’ of legislation before the General Election reflects their complexity and the detailed negotiation they demand,” he said.

“Both Bills could be back on the table as early as 9 June. This would appear to merely be a pause in the process.”

Part 5 of the now abandoned bill also planned to ban settlement of claims before a medical report and to introduce regulation of the ban on pre-medical settlements. Much of the detail would be included in secondary legislation. Only last month, the Public Bill Committee was calling on written evidence that it could take into consideration when scrutinising the bill. It was expected to stop doing so by 27 April.

The news comes a day after George Osborne, the architect of the PI reforms, announced that he would not be standing for re-election.

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Marek Handzel

Marek Handzel is the editor of Claims Magazine. Marek welcomes articles, letters, or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing marek.handzel@barkerbrooks.co.uk