Fixed fees under the RTA portal should fall by two-thirds to £400, insurers have told the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), while claimant lawyers have suggested figures ranging from £800 to £1,300.
Publishing an analysis of the 72 responses to its call for evidence on extending the portal in the wake of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee releasing draft pre-action protocols, the MoJ reported support among many respondents, particularly on the claimant side, to link costs to damages for both RTA and employers’ and public liability (EL/PL) cases.
This would be akin to Lord Justice Jackson’s famous ‘table B’ matrix of fixed costs in the fast-track.
The £400 figure for basic RTA cases, as opposed to the current basic £1,200, was the average of the 21 insurers who responded to the consultation. The MoJ said “fewer respondents put forward suggestions for cases between £10,000 and £25,000, especially on the claimant side”, and it did not reveal what they said.
Only 30% of respondents suggested figures for EL and PL claims; around 10% of defendants said that, in general, they should attract the same or similar costs as RTA claims.
Some of the suggestions for modifications to the RTA pre-action protocol have been taken up in new draft protocol, such as changing the timing of the stage 1 payment to prevent the ‘£400 Club’.
Asked what types of EL and PL claims lend themselves to a standardised and streamlined process, claimant representatives argued that there is an infinite number of variables between each case and that it would be difficult to group one set of cases together under one standardised process, as happens in RTA. By contrast most insurers took the view that all EL and PL claims are suitable for such a process.
Defendants largely won the argument over how long they have to admit liability; claimant representatives wanted 15 days, while defendants sought 30-45 days for EL and 40-60 days for PL. The draft protocol gives them 30 days for EL and 40 days for PL. A call from some claimant representatives to introduce provision for advice on quantum from counsel has not been heeded.
Both drafts say it is expected that most claimants will obtain a medical report from one expert but additional medical reports may be obtained from other experts where the injuries require reports from more than one medical discipline.
The MoJ report contained no hint of its own thinking on any of the issues discussed.