12 February 2013Print This Post

High Court to fast-track portal fee judicial review

JR hearing: no date set yet

The High Court is to fast-track the judicial review (JR) challenging the government’s proposed cut in RTA portal fees, it has emerged.

The action, brought by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Motor Accident Solicitors Society, will be listed for a ‘rolled-up’ hearing as soon as possible.

The order was made by the Administrative Court’s own motion on 6 February, as directed by the president of the Queen’s Bench Division.

A rolled-up hearing combines both the application for permission to proceed on the papers with an oral hearing in the event permission is not granted.

If the court grants permission, the hearing will continue to deal with the substantive claim. A date for the hearing has not yet been set, but there are only six weeks until the new fee is likely to come in.

The Ministry of Justice has yet to release any further information on when it will announce a final decision on whether RTA portal fees will fall from £1,200 to £500, nor on the revised timetable for the extension of the portal to employers and public liability cases, and higher value RTA.

Meanwhile, following the meeting of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee last Friday, the government will today lay a statutory instrument before Parliament to implement the changes to the Civil Procedure Rules from 1 April.

Separately the new portal for EL/PL claims could halve the amounts defendants currently pay out on such cases as and when it is introduced, liability adjuster Garwyn Group has estimated.

Chief executive Artur Niemczewski said: “While the justice minister is still considering the next steps for implementation of the portal, we know that the timescales for both liability response and claim settlement will be fixed when the portal takes effect. If defendants can meet all deadlines and do not dispute liability, claimant costs will be limited to a new fixed scale. A higher costs tariff will otherwise apply, but still generally lower than current, variable rates.

“We believe that if insurers and corporates take maximum advantage of the new fixed costs scheme, they will have the potential to reduce their total cost of risk by up to 50% through early economic settlement of those claims that belong within the portal, notwithstanding the post-Jackson 10% uplift in general damages.”

He said the challenge of the new protocol will be for claims managers to identify those claims which should be disputed, “whilst maximising the opportunity to settle valid claims within the protocol as quickly and economically as possible. With shorter timescales at their disposal, key decisions may have to be based on limited information”.

By Neil Rose

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