The Claims Portal was introduced to England and Wales in April 2010 by the Ministry of Justice in order to provide support during the claims process of claims valued at lower than £10,000. The use of electronic communications tool was further expanded on 31 July 2013 to include Employer’s Liability (EL) and Public Liability (PL) claims valued up to £25,000 as part of Lord Jackson’s reforms of the personal injury laws. Claims which are contested or those valued at over £25,000 are not handled via the Claims Portal, but the normal process. Within the portal legal costs are capped at £900 for claims between £1,000 and £10,000 and at £1,600 for those between £10,000 and £25,000.
The portal is a not-for-profit organisation is headed by 8 non-executive directors representing solicitors and the insurance industry. It is intended as a secure repository for information relating to claims where solicitors, insurers and compensators contribute and keep track of a claims process remotely. The resource’s extension was meant to streamline the process, enabling ease of communication, greater accuracy in claims and reducing the processes costs. The extension of the portals use reduced the time insurers have to reply to a claim from 90 to 30 days for Employer’s Liability claims and 40 days for Public Liability claims.
On 17 October the Claims Portal released its quarterly update to its Executive Dashboard Management Information; it’s first since the extension of the portals use. The data suggests that there may be some teething problems with the new system.
The data shows that in anticipation of Lord Jackson’s reforms to the system coming into effect there was a 2% increase in the numbers claims year on year for July, but a 15% decrease year on year for August. This initial data suggests that Jackson’s reforms are going some way to ‘combatting compensation culture’ by reducing the number of claims, though it is still early days for the new process.
During August, the first month of the new process there were 718 Claim Notification Forms (CNF’s) entered into the Claims Portal, which included industrial disease, industrial accident and public liability claims. Of these only 425 were still on the system at the end of the month. With roughly 40% of the claims being withdrawn there seems to have been some confusion regarding the new process.
Of the 143 EL claims involving disease 105 remained in the system at the end of August one claim was dropped due to an incomplete CNF, one was too complex for the system, 2 claims were withdrawn, 4 were duplicate claims, 2 required further information and 27 for other reasons.
There were 200 EL claims involving accidents in August; one due to an incomplete CNF, one was too complex for the process, 9 claims were withdrawn, one required interim payment for a child, one required further investigation and 26 were duplicate claims meaning 39% of the claims entered on the system broke down in some way.
There was a similar claims failure rate for public liability accident claims in August, with 375 being entered and 124 leaving the process; 33% of those entered. Of these one was due to an incomplete CNF, 3 were below the £1,000 base limit, one was too complex for the process, 9 claims were withdrawn, one had an offer withdrawn, one required further investigation, 4 failed to acknowledge the CNF on time, 26 due to duplicate claims and 78 existed to other reasons.
By far the largest number of claims left the process due to other reasons, which is not very enlightening. It would be helpful if the reasons were given in more detail so that the issues with the process could be ironed out. The second most popular reason for a claim existing the process was due to a duplication of a claim. This is an issue that the Claims Portal itself should really have addressed as it should have made the process more transparent. As those personal injury solicitors and insurers involved in the process become more familiar with it this proportion should decline. There also are claims which were not eligible to be entered into the process and there are some cases which were entered from before the 31 July start date in error.
Administrative errors are bound to happen when a new process is being adopted, but the high proportion of claims leaving the process suggest that those involved could use some more familiarizing with the system and process. We await the release of the next quarterly update to see whether involved parties have got up to speed.
About the author
Paul Rooney are a leading personal injury solicitors firm based in North West England who are up to speed with the new Claims Portal process and industry developments, so as to provide the best service and outcomes for their clients.