RTA portal struggles with claim numbers as clinical negligence pilot is set for April

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By Legal Futures

28 July 2011

RTA claims: problems with multiple forms

The RTA portal received around 650,000 claim notification forms (CNFs) during its first year of operation, although problems with the system means it is not clear exactly how many claims were lodged.

Meanwhile, a pilot to fast-track clinical negligence claims is set to begin next April, it has emerged.

RTA Portal Co, the company overseeing the portal which launched in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice on 30 April 2010, is presently working on its annual report for the first year of operation. The report, expected to be finalised over the next few weeks, has run into complications though in terms of calculating the precise number of claims processed.

The system calculates the number of CNFs, which came in at around 650,000, but mistakes and multiple filings by users have made it harder to know how many cases have been filed.

For instance, once a lawyer enters information into the system – which counts as one CNF – the form cannot be altered. RTA Portal Co found that lawyers were making mistakes and so abandoned the first CNF, filling out a second instead. This means there are two CNFs but just one claim; this has happened up to four or five times per claim.

Another factor has been the phenomenon of “multiple solicitor filings” when more than one solicitor, for instance one firm working for a car hire company and another for a before-the-event insurer, submits a CNF for the same case. Once again, this increases the amount of CNFs for a single case.

“The system was designed like an e-post box rather than a sophisticated claims management process so we’re having to look at the raw data to interpret it,” said solicitor Tim Wallis, independent chairman of RTA Portal Co.

The annual review follows the closure of the government’s consultation period in June on the prospect of expanding the system. The Ministry of Justice has floated the idea of extending the Portal to cover RTAs up to £25,000 as well as to employer’s and public liability and clinical negligence claims.

On clinical negligence, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly told Parliament recently that the Ministry of Justice is working with the NHS Litigation Authority and claimant lawyer representatives to devise a pilot for dealing with cases valued between £1,000 and £25,000.

“This will have a staged approach with the early exchange of medical details,” he said.

Mr Djanogly added that in the context of the proposals to reform conditional fee agreements, “my officials are also discussing with the NHSLA and other stakeholders how the commissioning of experts reports can be improved”.

A spokesman for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said there is merit in exploring a streamlined process for clinical negligence cases. “Any such process should be defined by the period of recovery from the injury, not by the value of the claim. It should only apply to cases in which liability has been admitted and be subject to a comprehensive pilot to ensure that it serves claimants properly,” he said.

“It would be inappropriate to simply replicate the existing scheme for road traffic accident cases and apply it to clinical negligence as both types of claim are very different in nature. Any streamlined process must be tailored to the specific type of case it is intended for.”

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