New laws for 2021 – How will they affect you?

Brexit is not the only change we can expect this year, as five new laws are to be introduced which will impact on anyone wishing to claim compensation for personal injury.

The changes, which will be rolled out throughout the year, range from whiplash claims to mobile phone laws.

We look at the news rules which could impact on you during 2021: 

April 2021 – Whiplash reforms

The way small claims are handled is set to change; it should have been introduced last April but was postponed until April 2021.

The Government envisages the public will pursue their own claims, but without a qualified solicitor to guide them through the process, this will be difficult. Most are likely to be deterred from even bringing a claim.

NV Legal have condemned the decision to increase the small claims limit for soft tissue/whiplash injuries from £1,000 to £5,000.

Increasing the limit could mean access to justice is denied as solicitor’s fees will not be recoverable for soft tissue injury claims below the new £5,000 threshold. This means claimants will have to represent themselves, taking on the large corporate insurers on their own. They will be at a huge disadvantage as they will be unfamiliar with the rules and legalities of pursuing a claim. They will also have to fund items such as court fees and medical reports themselves.

Spring 2021 – Electric scooters

A year-long study into the use of electric scooters on UK roads ends this spring and we expect electric scooters to be legalised during 2021. The government has been operating trials of the scooters at various cities across the UK during the past year.

Although electric scooters are currently available to buy in retail outlets, only rented scooters will be legal under the law that applies in England, Scotland and Wales.

As private scooters remain illegal on UK roads riders could face a £300 fine and six points on their licence, if caught riding one.

Spring 2021 – Mobile phones 

The government has announced plans to tighten up the ban on using mobile phones while driving, which is expected this spring.

It is illegal to make or receive calls while driving but the government wants to make it an offence to use a mobile phone for ‘any purpose’ while driving. This would include checking notifications, taking photographs, searching for music or dictating voice messages.

The new laws are unlikely to affect those using sat nav functions via a mobile phone if the phone is held in a cradle.

In 2019, there were 637 casualties on UK roads including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.

October 2021 – Self drive vehicles

Regulation of automated vehicles is currently under consultation as part of a joint project between the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission with final recommendations due to be published in the final quarter of 2021.

The Law Commission has launched its third and final consultation paper. The 392-page paper is the culmination of all the work undertaken by the Commission since the review was launched and any responses need to be submitted by March 18th. Changes to the law will then be implemented at the end of the year.

There is currently a loophole which will leave injured people having to pursue product liability claims against the manufacturer, rather than pursuing a claim for damages for personal injury from the vehicle insurer.

Driving automation includes a broad range of technologies from cruise control to vehicles that drive themselves with no human intervention. The consultation looks at automated driving systems which do not need human drivers for at least part of the journey. 

October 2021 – Allergy law

A new law which will require more foods to be labelled with allergen information will come into effect in October and is expected to protect millions of UK allergy sufferers.

The legislation will require businesses to provide full ingredient and allergen labelling on foods which are pre-packed for direct sale.

The proposed reforms cover labelling requirements for foods that are packed on the same premises from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.

Currently, these foods are not required to carry labels, and information on allergens can be given in person by the food business if asked by the consumer.

The changes will apply in England, with similar arrangements expected to follow in the devolved nations to provide a UK wide approach to protecting consumers.


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