Rule-makers have told justice officials there is still some way to go to create a framework for the proposed portal for RTA claims.
With the countdown rapidly running out for April’s implementation date, it has emerged that the Civil Procedure Rule Committee was requesting a rethink on draft rules as recently as last month.
Minutes for the committee’s November meeting show the sub-committee and Ministry of Justice ‘continue to work together constructively, but there is still much to do’.
The portal, originally intended to be operating last April, is designed for litigants in person as well as represented claimants. It will handle claims under £5,000, for which legal costs will no longer be recoverable.
The committee raised a number of issues with the rules as they are currently drafted, in particular asking for one section to be rewritten relating to the transfer of claims from the present portal to the new system. There are also unanswered questions on the content medical reports, circumstances in which LiPs were entitled to obtain a second medical report, and whether a compensator’s offer should be confirmed by a statement of truth.
Committee chair Lord Justice Coulson opened the item by explaining that views were preliminary at this stage because not all the screens showing the new portal were available.
The MoJ has insisted it will meet its April deadline, but faces widespread scepticism from the PI sector.
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by legal marketing collective First4Lawyers has shown that just 18% of claimant PI solicitors say their firm has a strategy to deal with whiplash reforms. Of the 1,241 responses to its Twitter pool, 37% said their firm has not decided on a strategy, while 28% had not even thought about it yet.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, said it was no surprise to see firms still undecided. ‘The government has had years to sort this out but cannot even tell us when the new rules will be published,’ he said. 'And yet they expect everyone to be ready to go just a few weeks later. It is no wonder that uncertainty pervades the market.’