From today the RTA protocol cover claims worth up to £25,000. It is imperative that every legal practitioner handling road traffic accidents fully understands these changes so that they can run cases in the most efficient manner.
Whereas the following overview will give you a guide on the implications of each adjustment to the RTA extended protocol, it goes without saying that lawyers should refer to the full text of the protocol when handling their client’s case.
Fees and payments
As a reminder, for claims worth £1,000-£10,000, the stage 1 fee is £200 and stage 2 is £300. For claims valued at £10,000-£25,000, the stage 1 payment is £200, and £600 for stage 2. Stage 3 payments remain unchanged
Prior to the protocol extension, the payment for stage 1 was required within 10 days of the compensator response. Now such payment needs to be made within 10 days of the settlement pack being sent at stage 2.
A new provision has been introduced for late settlement payment where £250 is now charged to the defendant when they settle after the court proceedings pack is sent out, but before stage 3 proceedings begin.
A specialist solicitor or counsel fee of £150 may be justified to place a value on the claim when its value is expected to be over £10,000.
There is a more significant change in regards to interim payments. Before the new protocols came into place, both parties were expected to remain in the process when medical reports were involved.
As we know, cases can drag out for a very long time and so claimants were entitled to call for an interim payment. Upon receiving the interim payment settlement pack, the defending party was required to pay within 10 days.
Now the claimant representative is entitled to request multiple interim payments, if the value of the claim exceeds £10,000.
The statement of truth must be signed by the claimant or their lawyer (if the claimant has authorised the lawyer to do so). This written evidence of the authorisation now needs to be produced which was not required in the original scheme.
There is no limit on the amount of witness statements that can be obtained but they all need to be reasonably required to value the claim. Again this wasn’t the case under the old protocol.
Medical expert reports
Similarly there is no limit on the number of medical reports that can be obtained. Legal representatives ought to keep in mind that there needs to be a robust justification obtaining each report.
If the report is obtained without justification, the court has the power to prevent recovery of the disbursement fee.
Following the protocol extension, the medical specialist must state in their report if any medical records have been assessed and highlight those with relevance to the case. Relevant records must be disclosed with the report. It is assumed that there will be no need for the medical expert to assess medical records in most cases valued at less than £10,000.
Aside from all of this, the stipulations of the non-extended protocol remain the same. Again, this breakdown is to be taken as a snapshot into the changes and any legal practitioner handling a claim should refer to the protocol and Civil Procedure Rules in full.
If you want to learn more about my opinion on these changes, you’re welcome to read my weekly blog on the personal injury sector.
John Spencer is director of Spencers Solicitors and a senior personal injury solicitor whose practice deals with all types of personal injury cases including road traffic accident claims. He is a former chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) and a member of the CPRC sub-committee which drafted both the original and the current protocol extensions.