Law Commissions’ final consultation on Automated Vehicles

08 Jul 2021

On Friday 2 July, the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission released a summary of responses as part of their review into automated vehicles (AVs).

Whilst final recommendations are due to be published in the fourth quarter of 2021, the summary of responses highlights (in italics) issues of interest for the conventional motor insurance market:

  1. UNINSURED AUTOMATED ‘DRIVING’

[G.4] We noted that, at present, the 2018 [Automated & Electric Vehicles] Act could leave victims of collisions involving uninsured AVs without any route to compensation. For conventional vehicles, the issue is dealt with by agreements between the Secretary of State for Transport and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB)…

[G.5] We understand that discussions between the UK Government and the MIB on this issue are ongoing…

Whilst discussions between the UK Government and the MIB regarding uninsured automated driving may be ongoing, it remains unclear how any new scheme involving accidents with uninsured AVs (when driving themselves) would be funded. We question whether it would be equitable to require only authorised motor insurers – that are currently members of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau – to continue funding the costs of uninsured automated driving.

  1. DUTY TO SHARE DATA WITH INSURERS

[H.7] We provisionally proposed that those controlling AV data should be under a legal duty to disclose data to insurers, where this is necessary to decide claims fairly and accurately.

However, insurers and manufacturers expressed divergent views. While insurers wanted clear and enforceable duties to provide a range of data within set time limits, industry representatives wanted to restrict data to that which is strictly necessary.

[H.8] Our current view is that legislation should set out a general duty… The details would be left to industry agreement, codes of practice or statutory instrument…

Whilst we agreed legislation should impose a duty to disclose AV data to insurers, we advocate for a strict duty that requires automatic transmission of data in the event of a collision to a neutral third-party server. We were opposed to qualifying the disclosure obligation by requiring the data to be necessary to decide claims fairly and accurately.

We are also concerned that to leave “the details… to industry agreement [or] codes of practice” may be unworkable in light of the divergent views between insurers and vehicle manufacturers. Given data will evidence whether a vehicle was actually driving itself at the time of an accident – thereby triggering an insurer’s liability under the Automated & Electric Vehicles Act 2018 – insurers will require autonomous access for claims validation.

Finally, if legislation were to impose an unqualified duty on those controlling AV data to disclose them to insurers, Article 6(1)(c) of the GDPR would be engaged, thereby providing a lawful basis for processing: “processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject”.

  1. DATA RETENTION PERIODS

[H.9] We provisionally proposed that… data should be retained for a period of three years, to reflect the standard limitation period for bringing legal claims…

[H.10] … There was little agreement as to how long any additional period should be, with consultees arguing for many different periods between four years and 21 years.

[H.11] We remain of the view that storage must be long enough to cover the great majority of claims. However, we note the controversy surrounding the time period and will discuss the costs further with those in the industry.

The Law Commissions’ summary suggests it is prepared to consider extending the data retention period beyond three years, subject to proportional costs. We have recommended revisiting the matter in light of insurers’ claims histories once automated vehicles are deployed on UK roads.

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To read more about BLM's responses to the Law Commissions’ consultations on Automated Vehicles, please click here.  The Motor team also responded to the Department for Transport’s call for evidence on Automated Lane Keeping Systems; further details are available here.

 

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Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

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Kerris Dale

Kerris Dale

Partner, head of motor practice group and head of office,
Cardiff


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