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Will personal injury claims need to change due to Brexit?

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We’re almost at the one-year countdown to the day when the UK leaves the EU. With March 29th 2017 the day when Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK now has a schedule to exit from the economic and political partnership come March 29th 2019.

There’s still so much to be arranged between now and Brexit officially occurring, not least the numerous EU Directives and Regulations which currently relate to personal injury claims. These are directives and regulations which lawyers throughout the UK seek out when they assist clients, but could all be subject to change in the months ahead — as the Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm, a medical negligence claims specialist, explores in this guide:

What are EU Directives & EU Regulations?

Let’s begin this guide by setting out what is clearly meant by EU Directives and EU Regulations.

EU Directives stand for any legal acts which are provided for within the EU Treaty. Once in place, all Member States of the EU are obliged to transpose them into national law, and are provided with a set deadline to do so. When it comes to the UK, EU directives have been turned into laws using Statutory Instruments — a process which means the government isn’t required to create a new piece of law and get it passed through parliament every time a new legal act is created.

The more specific aspects of EU Directives are known as EU Regulations. These are filled with the minimum requirements and fundamental principles that EU Member States must abide to once the legal acts are in place.

3 examples where EU Directives & EU Regulations apply to personal injury claims

When personal injury claims are made throughout the UK, these are three key instances of where EU Directives and EU Regulations may come into play at the moment:

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

Product safety is covered within the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and its associated regulations. It therefore provides consumers with protection whenever they buy goods and services in the UK. However, this act was passed as a result of an EU Directive from 1985, which saw strict liability being put against any producers of defective products.

The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act

The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act came about from the actions set out in the European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work. This is because this specific EU Directive has long guaranteed the minimum safety and health requirements which businesses across Europe must have in place to protect both workers and visitors on a site or workplace.

Helping those who have accidents abroad

When someone from the UK suffers an accident while they are abroad, there are also EU Directives and EU Regulations to assist them when making a claim. For instance, there is law in place through the European “Sixth Directive” 2009 which assists those who have had an accident in a EU Member State which was caused by an uninsured driver. In such a scenario, the party from the UK can bring a claim and request for compensation through the UK’s Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). This then sets in motion a process where the MIB will seek for reimbursement from the equivalent bureau that is set up in the EU Member State where the accident happened.

It’s important to mention the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) scheme here as well. This initiative currently gives those from the UK the right to access state-provided healthcare whenever they are temporarily situated in another European Economic Area. Some 27 million Ehic cards have been issued across Britain to date and proves helpful in times when someone in the UK has an accident in a EU Member State, regardless of the extent of their travel insurance cover.

Will Brexit alter the personal injury claims landscape drastically?

What must first be noted when answering this question is that ahead of Brexit, the UK government has to pass new laws before any old European laws which have worked to form part of the country’s own law can be revoked. Until any such motion is made, nothing will change as old European laws will not instantly cease to be relevant just because the UK is no longer a part of the EU.

A deal in principle has already been agreed by negotiators assembled in Brussels in August 2017 and involving Brexit Secretary David Davis regarding the Ehic scheme, for instance. The agreement outlines that British pensioners who have retired in another EU Member State and then travels to other Member States for holidays can still use their Ehic card whenever they require medical attention. This move is surely a positive sign for the future of the Ehic scheme.

Unfortunately, it’s a matter of waiting to see in regards to what the results of other discussions into how Brits will be able to make personal injury claims post-Brexit will be. Likewise, lawyers will surely be keeping a keen eye on these discussions to see what they will be able to do to assist their clients when they make personal injury claims after the UK has left the EU.

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