New riot bill now in force

Nearly six years after the riots of 2011, a major change in the law came into force last week. This overturns the very out-dated Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and addresses many of the complaints which arose in the wake of those dreadful events. It became abundantly clear at the time that the old law simply didn’t work any more and was in urgent need of updating. Six years later, this has finally happened.

The new law is designed ‘to repeal the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and make provision about types of claims, procedures, decision-making and limits on awards payable in relation to a new compensation scheme for property damaged, destroyed or stolen in the course of riots’. In simple language, it’s aimed at making it easier for businesses and individuals to make a claim.

It’s been a bit of a rocky road to get here which we’ve written about over the last few years, and the proposed law has changed a few times since it was first mooted in 2014. The key area of dispute was limiting the size of company which could make a claim, which would have excluded all but the smallest businesses. This was successfully overturned.

So, in summary, the new law will:

  • Allow insurers who have met claims from either individuals or businesses to claim compensation from the local policing body.
  • Allow individuals and businesses who are not insured to claim compensation from the local policing body.
  • Require that the amount of compensation paid must reflect only the loss which results directly from the damage, destruction or theft of the property – and not any consequential loss resulting from it.
  • End unlimited compensation, placing a £1 million cap on each claim.
  • Allow claims on motor vehicles which are not insured for riot damage but which are covered by an insurance policy at the time.

It’s very welcome news, but let’s hope it’s a very long time before it needs to be tested.