New mandatory requirement to use the Damages Claims Portal

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Introduced in May 2021, the Damages Claims Portal (“DCP”) is an online portal for managing damages claims. It was designed to make the damages claims process easier and more efficient for solicitors.

When do I need to use the portal?

HMCTS appears to be using the terms specified and unspecified to allocate claims.

Subject to a few exceptions (and provided the claimant is legally represented) the DCP applies to unspecified damages claims (being claims for a precise amount yet to be determined) issued in the County Court irrespective of value. It covers claims for professional negligence, breach of contract, personal injury, clinical negligence and consumer rights / consumer credit. Specified claims, on the other hand, are claims for a fixed amount of money due and payable under a contract and are still being issued in the County Court Money Claims Centre (unless one of the other County Court Pilot schemes applies). A contractual debt claim is a specified claim.

On 4th April 2022 it became compulsory for a claimant’s solicitor to issue a claim via the DCP. Law firms should already be aware of this obligation and have an account with MyHMCTS for this purpose.

In accordance with the latest update to PD 51ZB, from 15th September 2022 the obligation to use the DCP was extended to defendant solicitors provided certain conditions are met.

The conditions

From 15th September 2022 a defendant’s solicitor is required to use the DCP when:

(1) The claimant has given the defendant at least 14 days’ notice of their intention to bring a claim using the DCP; and
(2) The defendant has instructed a legal representative before the claim is started at court.

In these circumstances a defendant’s solicitor must: (1) register with MyHMCTS before the claim is started (if they haven’t done so already); (2) notify the claimant that they act for the defendant; and (3) give the claimant an email address for claims notifications.

If the defendant has not instructed a legal representative before the claim is started, the claim will automatically transfer to the CCMCC.


Currently the DCP only allows solicitors to progress a claim up to the directions questionnaire stage. There is no offline component until either (i) the case transfers out of the DCP, or (ii) a party takes a step which the DCP cannot cater for. At this point, whether at the directions questionnaire stage or earlier, the claim moves to the local County Court hearing centre requested by the parties on the DCP. The expectation is that the DCP will eventually be used up to enforcement stage, however, details of this are yet to be published.

Key takeaways for law firms

If your law firm is not already set up with a MyHMCTS account, this should be done now given the mandatory requirement to use the DCP. The court can impose sanctions if a claim is issued at the CCMCC when it should have been issued via the DCP.

Don’t assume that the address for service for the other side listed on the DCP itself is the address for service you have been given or are required to use. If the details don’t align, you can still issue the claim online but enter the correct address for service - the claim will then drop out of the DCP and transfer to the CCMCC.

If you have any queries about this article please contact Rory Mac Neice or Jessica Hedges (Trainee Solicitor) in the Commercial Litigation team.

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