Creation of an RTA Style Portal Scheme for Employers' and Public Liability ClaimsMonday 12th March 2012
The fixed cost scheme currently used for Road Traffic Accident (RTA) personal injury (PI) claims involves an electronic portal that was established in April 2010. The portal is a secure electronic service that facilitates dealing with claims based on the legal framework and rules established by the RTA PI Claims Protocol. At present more than 2,000 claims are advanced through the RTA Portal each day.
The portal, now part of the pre-action protocol in relation to motor PI claims valued between £1,000 and £10,000, has proven its worth based on the goal of allowing individuals to settle claims quickly and cheaply. The Association of British Insurers has commented that in its short life the RTA portal process has resulted in lower legal costs as the average payout time has been more than halved.
On the back of this success, the Prime Minister has announced that the existing RTA portal scheme will be extended to include employers' liability (EL) and public liability (PL) claims. Public authorities, as major employers and occupiers' of land should welcome this development, which has grown from the Solving Disputes in the County Courts: creating a simpler quicker and more proportionate system consultation paper. Furthermore, the value of the schemes that use the portals will be extended from a current cap of £10,000 to cover claims up to the value of £25,000, increasing the likelihood that even more disputes can be resolved in an efficient, cost effective and transparent manner.
While the principle of applying the RTA protocol to EL and PL claims has been given the go ahead, the fine detail in its application to these areas is still being reviewed. At present the Ministry of Justice is working on producing a full evaluation of the scheme and an impact assessment of the proposed extension to EL and PL claims, including:
• The appropriate level of fixed recoverable costs;
• The necessary modifications to the pre-action protocol and electronic portal taking account of the new value of £25,000; and
• Specific protocol amendments that may be needed in relation to employers' and public liability claims.
This evidence gathering process will end on 25 May 2012 and the key elements of these and other Jackson proposed reforms likely to be introduced should be made public in October 2012. However, implementation of these reforms is not scheduled until April of next year. If the elements of EL and PL claims that are more challenging than standard low value RTA claims can be adequately accounted for in an electronic portal, these reforms should result in reduced costs and quicker resolution of claims commonly faced by public bodies.
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