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Friday 29th March 2019; the date of the UK leaving the EU, is edging ever nearer, with Theresa May invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29th 2017 — meaning that the UK is now on a schedule to step away from the economic and political partnership.

People may not be aware that there are various EU Directives and Regulations when it comes to Brexit. They currently apply to personal injury claims. This means that lawyers across the UK use these when assisting clients. However, such practices may soon be subject to change.

Here, medical negligence solicitors from Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm explore the alterations which may soon be witnessed in this area of the medical world in the years to come:

Understanding EU Directives & EU Regulations

Firstly, let’s begin to understand what is meant by both EU Directives and EU Regulations.

EU Directives are what is known as the legal acts which are provided for in the EU Treaty. All Member States of the EU are obliged to transpose them into national law once they are in place. There will also be a set deadline for this to be completed by.  When it comes to the UK, EU directives have been turned into laws using Statutory Instruments — this means it is not essential for the government to create a new piece of law and have it passed through parliament every time a new legal act is created.

The more specific features of the EU Directives are known as EU Regulations. They contain the minimum requirements and fundamental principles that EU Member States must follow once the legal acts are in place.

How do the EU Directives & EU Regulations apply to personal injury claims?

Below are three main examples of how the EU Directives and EU Regulations currently apply to personal injury claims which are made across the UK.

The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act

The groundwork for the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act has been laid by The European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work. This is due to this specific EU Directive has long guaranteed the minimum safety and health requirements which companies across Europe must have in place to protect both employees and visitors on a site or workplace.

The Consumer Protection Act 1987

The Consumer Protection Act 1987, as well as its associated regulations, covers product safety and protects consumers whenever they purchase 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.

Matters regarding accidents abroad

Additionally, EU Directives and EU Regulations are in place to assist with those from the UK who have an accident when they are abroad.

For example, there is law in place through the European “Sixth Directive” 2009 which helps those who have had an accident in a EU Member State which was caused by an uninsured driver. In this example, 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.

Furthermore, there is the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) scheme, which currently gives those residents from the UK the right to access state-provided healthcare whenever they are temporarily situated in another European Economic Area. Over 27 million Ehic cards have been distributed 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.

How will Brexit change things?

A major aspect to stress when it comes to Brexit is that the UK government must first pass new laws in order to revoke any old European laws which have helped to create part of the nation’s own law. Until this process has began, 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.

In relation to the Ehic scheme, there was a deal made in principle agreed by negotiators in Brussels at the end of August 2017, which involved Brexit Secretary David Davis. The agreement explains 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.

However, it remains to be seen what results further discussions will bring when it comes to how the UK make personal injury claims post-Brexit, and how lawyers will be able to assist their clients in regards to these claims.