Autonomous vehicles update

The way in which people and goods travel is changing rapidly. As a new era of transport continues to unfold, Kennedys is here to keep you up to date on the latest developments and what they mean for you and your business.

  • 16 Oct 2019

    Next phase in review of regulatory framework for automated vehicles launched

    The focus of Part 2 of the Law Commissions’ three-year review is on a new form of service which “uses highly automated vehicles to supply road journeys to passengers without a human driver or user-in-charge”, capable of travelling empty or with passengers. Referred to in the consultation paper as Highly Automated Road Passenger Services, or HARPS, it is envisaged that this new form of service will require a new regulatory regime, distinct from those already applicable to taxis, private hire or public service vehicles.

    Key amongst the matters for consideration under the consultation paper are wider transport goals. In particular, creating a regulatory regime for HARPS that “should promote a service that benefits society more generally”, with a focus on accessibility for disabled and older people.

    The consultation closes on 3 February 2020.

  • 19 Jun 2019

    Collaboration is key to safe regulation of autonomous vehicles

    The results of the Law Commissions’ joint preliminary consultation into the safe regulation of autonomous vehicles published today, echo the importance of manufacturers working collaboratively with government and insurers on data management in the new driverless vehicles environment.

    The analysis of the written responses received from a wide range of consultees - that included insurers, legal professionals, local government, and manufacturers – highlighted Kennedys’ thinking on several key issues.

    We welcome the Law Commissions’ detailed analysis. The responses highlight that it is absolutely vital that the government and key stakeholders work collaboratively to ensure that autonomous vehicle technology is brought to our roads safely, and under a clear and transparent insurance and liability framework that is sufficiently agile to keep pace with technological advances.

    The next phase of the three-year review being undertaken by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission, will be to consult this year on the regulation of automated vehicles in public transport and mobility as a service.

    Related item: Collaboration is key to safe regulation of autonomous vehicles

  • 19 Feb 2019

    Government must get people talking on autonomous vehicles

    In our response to the Law Commissions’ preliminary consultation on autonomous vehicles (which closed on 18 February 2019), we confirmed our belief that government need to work centrally to further facilitate meetings and communication between various stakeholders, and in particular between insurers and manufacturers.

    We recognise that while there have been some steps from government to make this happen, a lot more needs to be done if it is to improve underwriting and the provision of insurance for autonomous vehicles. We have also said that the role of the “user-in-charge” - the person operating the controls of the automated vehicle when not in autonomous mode – must be made clear now and cannot wait until the technology further develops.

    Related items:
    Kennedys tells government it must get people talking on autonomous vehicles
    Autonomous vehicles – the criminal law perspective

  • 6 Feb 2019

    New Code of Practice to support advanced testing of AVs

    The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles has published its Code of Practice: Automated vehicle trialling (February 2019), which updates the previous version published in 2015. One of the overarching aims (as set out at paragraph 1.7 of the Code) is to:


    Support and promote the safe trialling and use of automated vehicle technologies and services on public roads or in other public places in the UK and build public confidence in automated vehicle technologies and services.

  • 8 Nov 2018

    Review of regulatory framework for automated vehicles launched

    As part of a review of the regulatory framework for the safe deployment of automated vehicles in the UK, the Law Commissions of England and Wales, and Scotland published its preliminary consultation paper on 8 November 2018. Closing on 8 February 2018, the consultation represents a positive step towards developing an appropriate framework following the enactment of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.

    With a focus on the need to fill any gaps in existing civil and criminal liability, as well as changes to ensure appropriate vehicle safety assurance and transparency from manufacturers, the consultation is part of a three-year project running from March 2018.

  • 13 Sep 2018

    International, industrywide standards are needed for autonomous vehicle liability

    While a variety of discussions are taking place around the world, there are already differences in the coverage and liability systems emerging. This brings into focus the importance of governments and the whole industry – from trade bodies to manufacturers and the entire supply chain – working together to create a singular legal framework, global to national, for what will happen if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident.

    Drawing from our recent research on driverless vehicles, we have published a special article on autonomous vehicle liability, as featured in Raconteur's 'Future of Transport' report in The Times.

    Related item: International, industrywide standards are needed for autonomous vehicle liability

  • 19 Jul 2018

    Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 receives Royal Assent

    The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill received Royal Assent on 19 July 2018. The intention behind the legislation is to emphasise that if there is an insurance ‘event’ (accident) the compensation route for the individual remains within the motor insurance settlement framework, rather than through a product liability framework against a manufacturer.

    In most cases, first instance liability will fall on insurers so that victims of accidents caused by autonomous vehicles will be able to receive compensation easily and quickly, albeit with the insurer’s ability to pursue recovery from a product liability or professional indemnity insurer.

    Related items:
    Automated and Electric Vehicles Act briefing
    Who is to blame when autonomous vehicles are involved?

  • 18 Oct 2017

    Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill presented to parliament

    The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill was presented to parliament on 18 October 2017, with the aim of supporting innovation in self-driving technology in the UK.

    The Bill was introduced as part of the government’s industrial strategy to promote the development and deployment of both automated and electric vehicles, in line with policies on climate change. The legislation is split into two parts: one which extends the existing compulsory third party insurance framework to cover the use of automated vehicles; and a second which deals with electric and hydrogen powered vehicles charging infrastructure.

Autonomous vehicles focus area