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Claimant lawyers push RTA portal court hearings to monthly record

Simon Denyer [1]

Denyer: Claimants “keener in searching for extra damages”

The number of stage 3 court hearings for RTA portal cases hit its highest monthly total in July, it has emerged.

Figures from the Claims Portal Ltd show the number of court packs issued where settlements are not agreed reached 3,044, a figure Simon Denyer, partner at defendant firm DWF, described as “remarkable” and the highest ever by a considerable margin.

He said: “Though the August figure was lower at 2,562, that number is the second highest on record. The number of new court packs has doubled in a year.

“There can be no doubt that claimants and their lawyers are much keener in searching not only for any extra damages, but also for the additional costs, of taking claims to stage 3.”

Mr Denyer said that, as a result, the levels of pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) offers in RTA claims had continued to edge up, to £2,567 in July and £2,571 in August.

The portal figures show the number of claims on the rise, and Mr Denyer said he expected another peak in the number of new claims this month, as claimant lawyers rushed to beat the implementation date of October 1 for the first phase of the whiplash reforms announced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The reforms include capping the costs of medical reports at £180 [2], restrictions on obtaining more than one medical report and the opportunity for the defendant to submit its version of the accident to the medical expert when it wants.

“Some claimant lawyers at least, and especially those who will see the changes coming in as at that date as a threat to the way they operate, will be submitting higher volumes before 1 October,” Mr Denyer warned.

He added that July also saw the highest number of case notification forms for each of the three non-RTA portal categories – public liability, employer’s liability and employer’s liability disease claims. Public liability peaked at 7,332, employer’s liability at 4,696, and employer’s liability disease cases at 1,744.

However, Mr Denyer said these increases were to be expected, as these cases had only been in the portal since 31 July 2013, and were subject to a three-year limitation period.