New changes to Personal Injury claims

Article

23 July, 2008

The Personal Injury and Compensation Branch of the Ministry of Justice has published the Government's response to the consultation paper "Case track limits and the claims process for personal injury claims".

The Government's conclusions are as follows:-

  • The small claims track limit for personal injury claims will remain at the current limit of £1000
  • The small claims track limit for housing disrepair claims will remain at the current limit of £1000 for the cost of repairs and £1000 for damages
  • The general small claims limit for non PI and non housing disrepair claims will remain at the current limit of £5,000
  • The Fast track upper limit is to be increased from the current £15,000 limit to £25,000
  • ATE Insurance premiums taken out before the defendant's stance on liability is known will continue to be recoverable from the Defendant

The Government has decided that a new claims process will be introduced but only in Road Traffic personal injury cases where the value of the claim is between £1,000 and £10,000. EL, PL and disease claims were generally considered too complex for the new streamlined process.

The fine details of the new process have yet to be finalised but in outline:

  • The Claimant's solicitor sends a new "claim notification form" to the defendant / insurer within 5 days of gathering all the information necessary to complete the claim notification form. There will be a different Claim notification form where a Claimant chooses to bring a claim without the assistance of a Solicitor
  • Upon receipt of the claim notification form the Defendant's insurer has 15 working days to respond on liability
  • If liability is denied, or contributory negligence is alleged, then the case then comes out of the new claims process and will be dealt with as a Fast Track case
  • If liability is admitted, the Claimants Solicitor then obtains a medical report
  • The Claimant's solicitor serves a "settlement pack " comprising of the medical report, schedule of specials and an offer to settle
  • Defendant's insurer has 15 working days to consider the offer
  • If the Claimant's offer is not accepted the Defendant is to make a counter offer.
  • If no settlement agreed after 20 working days from service of counter offer, The parties are to apply to the Court for a judge to assess the damages. The judge can assess the damages based on written evidence only of the parties agree.

If causation becomes an issue once the medical evidence has been disclosed, then the case will come out of the new process.

The intention is that only fixed costs should be recoverable by the Claimant's Solicitor for cases concluded under the new process and the Advisory Committee on Civil Costs is to look into and decide the level of fixed costs. The Government says that "part 36 type" provisions will apply to offers to settle made in the new process but more emphasis should be placed on judicial discretion.

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee is to now draft the rules and practice directions to put the new procedure into effect.

For more information, contact David Yates on 01254 662831 or contact David Yates by email.

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