Michael Pace

Michael Pace

mpace

Michael Pace is Head of the Motor Law and Personal Injury Teams at Andrew & Co Solicitors in Lincoln and Newark. He joined Andrew & Co in 1998 and took over the leadership of the Personal Injury Team in 1999. He has since developed a niche practice in Defendant Motor Law building on his previous experiences in the police force and represents both individuals and companies who find themselves in court for criminal motoring offences. He is a regular speaker and lecturer for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.


As from October 1, 2014, it is no longer necessary to display a paper tax disc in your vehicle. This includes tax discs which have not yet run out: for example, if your disc expires on November 30, 2014, you can remove it now.

DVLA will still send you a reminder to tax the vehicle, but when the time comes no disc will be issued.

The downside to the scheme is that vehicle tax will no longer be transferable with the vehicle. Also, when buying a vehicle you will be responsible for taxing it before driving it away. Therefore, if you are selling a vehicle you have a duty to inform the DVLA that it is sold. They will then cancel the tax from the end of that month and send you a refund.

The person buying the vehicle must tell DVLA and pay tax on the phone or by internet and will be charged from the beginning of the month. As you will have realised, the Government gets two months’ tax paid at that time!

According to the government, the new system has the potential to save DVLA up to £7 million annually in administration costs. In my opinion, however, the real reason behind the new rules is to make sure people register the change of ownership.

For motorists the downside is the double taxation and problems which may arise if buying or selling privately.

Modern road traffic policing is mostly done by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. These cameras are located all around us on street lamps and buildings and automatically read every vehicle’s number plate. The system checks the numbers for tax, insurance, MOT and wanted registered keepers of vehicles. The police then either intercept the vehicle or visit the keeper later.

They also are a way of tracking a vehicle’s movement around the country.

If buying or selling privately, you may wish to consider entering into an agreement with the seller at the time of taking possession that they will not notify DVLA of the change of ownership until enough time has passed to let you drive home. This will allow you a safe journey home without being stopped for not having any tax. Once home, you can then sit down at your computer or phone and tell DVLA of the change of keeper details. If you are the seller, however, you’ll need to make sure you have the buyer’s full details before letting the vehicle go, and that you notify DVLA at the time agreed or as soon thereafter as possible. If you are the buyer, the normal rules of insurance continue to apply and you must be insured before you drive the vehicle away.

Some motoring organisations are unhappy about the new legislation. The RAC has expressed concerns that there could be a spike in drivers on the roads without tax. It said the possible scenario could mean Treasury coffers lose out on up to £167 million annually, although the DVLA dismissed the claim and said there was no reason to expect an increase in tax evasion.

There could also be an increase in the number of cloned vehicles as dishonest people try to avoid the ANPR cameras.

Drivers may also be concerned that they will forget to renew their tax without having a paper disc in the window screen to act as a reminder, and they would be right to be worried; the DVLA can fine them £80 – reduced to £40 if paid promptly – on top of the tax owed. Those who fail to pay can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 in court.

It is therefore imperative for motorists to notify DVLA of any change of address to ensure they receive the usual reminder and subsequent requests for payment.

Michael Pace is Head of the Motor Law and Personal Injury Teams at Andrew & Co Solicitors in Lincoln and Newark. He joined Andrew & Co in 1998 and took over the leadership of the Personal Injury Team in 1999. He has since developed a niche practice in Defendant Motor Law building on his previous experiences in the police force and represents both individuals and companies who find themselves in court for criminal motoring offences. He is a regular speaker and lecturer for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

From 1st April, the government is changing the law on how a personal injury claim is made and who has to pay your solicitors bill, in favour of the insurance industry. This will have a detrimental effect on all injured people, who will become responsible for having to pay part of their solicitors bill. At the same time some solicitors will stop doing personal injury work, or at least the more simple accident claims, because they are unlikely to be profitable even with a contribution towards the overall costs from the client.

Currently, an injured person can instruct a solicitor knowing that they are likely to receive all of their compensation, providing the claim for the injury is worth more than £1,000, as other losses are claimed on top of this.

At the end of a claim, a solicitor presents his detailed bill to the other side and a settlement is usually agreed. If not, the court determines the amount to be paid. This will include the cost of medical reports, an insurance premium and a success fee. When Legal Aid was removed from accident claims, success fees were introduced by the government to make up for those cases which solicitors took on and discontinued or lost at trial — the idea being that all injured people were entitled to seek advice.

The net result of no win – no fee agreements is that there are fewer claims being made due to solicitors only getting paid if they win. Under the Legal Aid scheme, payment was received even where the case was lost.

What’s changing

After 1st April, however, the guilty party or their insurer will no longer be required to pay all your legal costs. In the new system, victims will have to pay for their own insurance to protect them from paying the other sides’ costs if they lose a claim. Success fees will not have to be paid by the guilty party either.

On top of this, if the government have their way, fixed costs will be brought in for different types of claims. These ‘recoverable costs’ will be set according to the amount of damages recovered. They will have no bearing at all on the level of work actually done on your behalf.

What this means in practice is, that an insurer could as they often do now, by way of stalling for time, denying liability, denying they have previously agreed something in the claim, losing letters and so on, cause your solicitor to have to do extra work to force the claim to a settlement whilst not being able to charge the insurer for all the actual work done.

The government’s idea is that the victim should contribute 25% of their compensation to make up the solicitors bill and pay for insurance to protect themselves.

What the government is ignoring is that the victims of accidents did not look to be injured and, that they are innocent within the process and at the mercy of arrogant and bullying insurance companies.

The full details of what is to happen after 1st April are not yet known. This is because the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has commenced a Judicial Review of the government’s proposed action.

As well as this, the company that runs the electronic portal have been unable to build the new computer system required to work the new claims systems by the 1st April. Some of the proposals are therefore postponed for now. Despite this, the courts have produced new rules to deal with injury claims.

My advice is that if you have suffered an accident and been injured or, have been diagnosed with an illness caused by your work, in the last three years, then you need to see a solicitor as soon as you can and certainly well before the 1st April 2013 for a free assessment of your case so that you can start your claim before then.

Michael Pace is Head of the Motor Law and Personal Injury Teams at Andrew & Co Solicitors in Lincoln and Newark. He joined Andrew & Co in 1998 and took over the leadership of the Personal Injury Team in 1999. He has since developed a niche practice in Defendant Motor Law building on his previous experiences in the police force and represents both individuals and companies who find themselves in court for criminal motoring offences. He is a regular speaker and lecturer for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.