Discount Rate Review: the latest news

We have previously covered the potential changes that could come as a result of the Discount Rate Review elsewhere. However there have been a couple of recent developments which could be cause for concern.

The Government’s Actuary – the Government’s own statistics department – has issued a document (Setting the Personal Injury Discount rate: Technical Memorandum) setting out how it will assist the Lord Chancellor in setting a new discount rate.  The concern with the approach outlined, is that lots of the detail of how they would model different discount rates was left to the call for evidence the result of which have not been published.  This leaves potentially important gaps in that modelling which the Government will then rely upon in setting the new rate.

The Lord Chancellor also recently announced that he had started the process of setting the new rate, which therefore now must be completed by 5 August 2019. Interestingly, following on from the above, the terms of reference for the Government’s Actuary in assisting with the review and setting the new rate have been put in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament and not published – and so we are no clearer as to what gaps in approach might exist.

The concern therefore remains that the review is being rushed through – it is also worth noting that it is in the Government’s own interests to make the rate as high as possible as it will reduce payments made by the NHS in clinical negligence claims – and will not reflect the actual situation of vulnerable people, injured through no fault of their own, who then need to make their damages award work for them and last, possibly for life.

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