11 December 2015Print This Post

Speed Medical to appeal after High Court backs MoJ on MedCo

RCJ

Pulford: “no choice but to challenge” MedCo

Speed Medical has said it will appeal after the High Court this morning rejected its judicial review and backed the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) over the operation of MedCo, the portal for expert evidence in whiplash cases.

Speed was challenging the decision by the MoJ that of the seven medical reporting organisations (MROs) presented to a solicitor from a search on MedCo, only one is a ‘tier 1’ provider, meaning it is a high-volume national MRO like Speed.

Reacting to the ruling, Graham Pulford, managing director of Speed Medical, said: “We are obviously disappointed that Mr Justice Cranston has decided in the government’s favour.

“This was a drawn out process and despite our best efforts to engage with the MoJ prior to this hearing, it has shown no signs of being willing to consider our position and that of other MROs or to work together to resolve the issues.

“Unfortunately, we were left with no choice but to challenge the current MedCo system. It is unfair and anti-competitive, and it removes the imperative to innovate from the market, all of which is detrimental to the consumer.”

Mr Pulford said the random allocation process was “fundamentally flawed” and uncontrollable.

“Its introduction has greatly diluted the availability of quality provided to the consumer yet has not effectively addressed the governments stated objectives.

“At no point during the judicial review process did the MoJ demonstrate that the introduction of MedCo had had any tangible or monetary benefits in fulfilling the government’s aims as part of the reform of handling soft tissue whiplash claims.

“We were also frustrated by the provision of a succession of erroneous reports and statistics of MedCo data from the MoJ.

“We support the overall intention of the MoJ to remove fraudulent and exaggerated claims and enshrine transparency into the legal process by breaking any financial links between solicitors and experts and by introducing a more stringent accreditation regime.

“And we have always believed that the integrity of the medical professionals used to compile reports is paramount but, we believe, the present system of allocating MROs is unnecessary and ineffective in achieving these aims.”

Speed Medical lodged its judicial review claim in March, arguing mainly that including only one larger national provider was anti-competitive.

Its judicial review application was initially rejected by the High Court in May, when Mr Justice Leggatt ruled on the papers that it could not be reasonably argued that MedCo was abusing a dominant position. However in June Mrs Justice McGowan ordered Speed’s case to proceed to an oral hearing.

A spokesman for the MoJ said: “We are very pleased that the court has dismissed the claimant’s challenge.

“Ordinary motorists should not have to face higher premiums as a result of dishonest whiplash claims. We are taking a series of steps, including the introduction of MedCo earlier this year, to tackle this abuse. Our plans will benefit consumers through lower motor insurance premiums.

“We will continue to robustly defend any legal challenge.”

By Nick Hilborne

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