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Web alert: England and Wales – Extension of claims portal to personal injury claims under £25,000

09 August 2013

On 31 July 2013 the electronic portal for personal injury claims in England and Wales was extended by the Ministry of Justice to all employers' liability and public liability claims up to a value of £25,000. Any claim where the accident occurs after this date should typically be commenced via the online ‘portal’.

The portal itself is an electronic claims gateway and management system and it is the aim of the Ministry of Justice that all claims falling within the financial limit noted above should be managed and concluded within the portal. It is an attempt to both streamline the claims process for claimants and defendants, and to also reduce the cost exposure to both parties.

The portal does not apply to claims occurring outside England and Wales, for certain industrial disease claims, and claims which are considered to be ‘unsuitable for the portal’ (in other words highly complex disputes). However, the introduction of this system will be relevant to any Members who operate vessels in the jurisdiction of England and Wales as personal injury claims valued at less than £25,000 should be commenced and managed in the portal.

The benefit to insurers and defendants of claims being commenced within the portal is the fixed costs regime that has been introduced to complement the new system. If a claim settles within the portal the maximum level of costs recoverable by a claimant is £1,600. This is likely to be significantly less than under the previous cost regime for such claims.

Unfortunately, it appears quite easy for a claim to ‘drop out’ of the portal system and be dealt with in the conventional manner. This will occur if a defendant fails to acknowledge receipt of a claim within one business day, if the claim is in excess of £25,000, a defendant denies liability, or contributory negligence is alleged. In such a situation claimants will, in addition to fixed costs, be able to recover from a defendant a percentage of damages as costs. However, for straightforward claims where liability is unlikely to be an issue the cost benefit to a defendant of that claim remaining in the portal system throughout is clear.

The Club is taking steps to register as a portal user in order to assist Members who receive personal injury claims in this particular jurisdiction.