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New riots bill on the agenda

It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly four years since the terrible riots of August 2011, and it’s a year since we wrote about proposals to amend the Riot (Damages) Act. This didn’t happen before the election but, now that the dust has settled, it seems that something is going to happen.

The House of Commons has just carried out the ballot for Private Members’ Bills and one of the winners’ proposals is the review of this Act. The new bill will update the law which dates from 1886 and which sets no limits on the sums insurers can claim back from the police for any damage caused during a disturbance.

The new rules outlined in the Riots Compensation Bill will limit the amount insurers can claim to £1 million. This is put into sharp focus by the continuing court case over the Sony warehouse which was destroyed in the 2011 riots, which we also wrote about last year.

This dispute between the Mayor of London and the Japanese insurers of the premises is now at the high court. The crux of the matter is who should foot the £49 million bill for the losses caused: the insurers or the Mayor on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. This would not have happened under the terms of the new bill.

We’ll keep an eye on Parliamentary progress.

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