2021 has no doubt been a rollercoaster year in the field of travel law and accident claims.
Just a year ago, the last ties between the UK and the EU broke off, with the end of the Brexit transition period. This made way to a period of legal uncertainty for personal injury cross-border claims, with the loss of the Brussels Regulation which previously allowed victims to sue foreign insurers in their home countries after an accident abroad.
There were expectations that this would only be temporary, as the UK had applied to access the Lugano Convention; however, the process came to a halt after the EU Commission advised against it in July.
In November, the Supreme Court decision in Brownlie II came as a game-changer, with its wide interpretation of the notion of ‘damage’ being sustained in the jurisdiction. This significant case has given hopes to Claimant lawyers that they would again be able to sue foreign insurers in the UK, however, the situation remains very different from what it was under the Brussels regime. Insurers should and will attempt to dispute jurisdiction on the basis of ‘forum non conveniens’.
Parties and lawyers on both sides have to expect more litigation and legal uncertainty to establish jurisdiction of the English courts on a claim following an accident abroad, and must anticipate the impact of their litigation choices on enforcement. No doubt that 2022 will see several decisions on forum non conveniens, which may or may not provide guidance for future cases.
2021, like 2020, was also a year where COVID-19 was omnipresent: travel law was immensely affected by the pandemic, due to travel restrictions and lockdowns, in this country as in every country in the world.
If the summer of 2021 saw some relaxation in the travel restrictions, since the apparition of the Omicron variant in December, the UK like most countries has tightened up its borders. Nevertheless, and unlike a year ago, it remains possible to travel outside of the UK, for those who dare untangle the intricacies of forms to fill, documents to bring with them, tests to take, quarantines or self-isolation periods to respect, with or without vaccination.
For those of us who can’t wait to ride the – particularly snowy this year – Alpen slopes this winter, or perhaps enjoy a holiday filled with culture and old stones, or else relax on a Mediterranean beach later on, 2022 starts with some hope that travel will continue to be possible and dare we say will become easier?
Best wishes to all and stay safe!