The government is determined to introduce the expanded RTA claims portal in April 2013, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has stressed, despite the company behind the system saying it cannot be done in that time.
As well as announcing plans earlier this week to consult on raising the small claims limit for personal injury (PI) and introduce independent medical evaluations of whiplash injuries, the MoJ highlighted the extension of the RTA portal to claims worth £25,000, and to employers’ and public liability cases, as a key part of its plans to reduce the cost of motor insurance.
However, we reported in March that Portal Co – which oversees the technical infrastructure of the RTA portal – has told the MoJ that it would take 11 months to amend the portal to encompass RTA claims worth up to £25,000, and two years and seven months to build and test a new system for EL and PL.
Further, it said this work could only begin once the Civil Procedure Rule Committee has set the rules and we believe the committee has been asked to complete this work by December.
An MoJ spokeswoman told Legal Futures: “We are aware of the Portal Co concerns and continue to work with them and other key stakeholders on both the vertical and horizontal extensions, with a view to implementation of a revised protocol by April 2013.”
She also confirmed that an independent evaluation of the RTA portal – which was promised in the Solving disputes in the county court consultation response in February as a precursor to any extension – will be published in the summer.
The spokeswoman rejected the suggestion that the proposal to increase the small claims limit for PI cases from £1,000 to £5,000 was a U-turn.
While acknowledging that the Solving disputes consultation response stated that there will be no change to the PI threshold, she pointed out that, as explained in the original consultation paper, this was because the consultation did not actually look at this question – its focus was on whether to raise the standard small claims threshold of £5,000.
She continued: “The threshold for personal injury claims hasn’t been looked at since 2007, when it was decided the time wasn’t right to raise the limit. There is now political and industry will to revisit this question and following discussions at the Prime Minister’s recent summit, we believe it is right to consult on an option which could help address the rising cost of personal injury claims. The insurance industry has also promised to pass on any savings to consumers.”
A third motor insurance summit is understood to be scheduled for the autumn.