If the Civil Liability Act took a long time to plan and pass, it seems to have taken even longer to get implemented. But it’s here at last, or at least it should be, by the end of May.

While the pandemic will undoubtedly be given some credit for the delays, the first postponement was actually announced in February 2020, a few weeks before the Coronavirus Act left the blocks on its own sprint though parliament, and over a year after the Civil Liability Act was itself passed, back in 2018.

Any further delay would seem unthinkable now, but confidence that all will run smoothly from May 31st is low. The government seemed to have been forced into the last postponement, in order to buy another few weeks to get everything ready for launch. There is little evidence that it will be.

Whether the Official Injury Claim Service ‘portal’ has passed testing with flying colours or may still be plagued with bugs, it is hard to see how any motorists unfortunate enough to need to use it over the coming weeks will even know that it exists.

Certainly, ARAG’s motor policyholders will not have to worry about finding and navigating the new portal to make a claim and will receive 100% of any compensation that they may be due, but how motorists without the benefit of such support are supposed to manage, irrespective of their digital aptitude, remains unclear.

There is plenty of scepticism about the long-promised reduction in motor premiums that the reform is supposed to deliver. The maths is likely to be complicated, in the wake of 2020’s dramatic fall in claims numbers and other factors that have changed pricing models, and it seems unlikely we will get to see the working.

Concern also persists about the tariffs for different levels of injury that were published earlier this year. The £240 total maximum compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity that could last up to 3 months seems particularly miserly, particularly for injuries that could have quite a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day life, for such a timeframe.

The ‘soft launch’ that might have occurred had the new system gone live during one of the lockdowns may well have been beyond the government’s reach. However, it’s hard to imagine a much tougher first week for the portal than the one immediately following the coming Bank Holiday weekend, when many motorists will be returning to the roads, perhaps a little rusty, to undertake long and possibly unfamiliar journeys.

Whether or not the choice of date was made for entirely political, rather than practical reasons, it is difficult to see the coming launch being, for want of a better phrase, anything but a car crash.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.