There should be no delay in expanding the current RTA process to higher-value and other forms of personal injury claims despite publication last week of the Fenn report, the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has argued.
The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, identified as a key issue the interdependence of the costs under the fixed recoverable costs scheme (FRCS) and under the RTA process, and recommended that the two are jointly reviewed once the process had been in operation for a second year – which, due to delays in publishing the report, is already past.
“Once an integrated system of fixed costs is in place for all low-value, non-litigated RTA claims, it could in principle be extended to other types and values of claim,” he said. This indicated that it could not be done in time for the government’s RTA process extension timetable of next April.
Don Clarke, the president of FOIL, said he supported the call for a joint review. “This is aligned to the current work to bring forward the Jackson recommendations which we have supported from their announcement. We would not support any great divergence as between portal and non-portal costs.
“Costs should be fixed for portal, non-portal and litigated claims up to £25,000. Above that threshold, there should be a detailed review of the guideline hourly rate to bring control and proportionality in costs in more expensive claims.”
However, he said insurance lawyers did not back a delay. “The report has been so delayed in its release that the timeframe has already expired, with the portal having been in operation now for more than two years.
“The government should move to fix and control costs as planned for April 2013 and there should be no further delays in implementing those changes. We believe that the protocol approach and fixed costs should be extended to all classes of personal injury claims. This again should be capable if implementation goes ahead by April 2013.”