The Claims Portal is an online tool for securely processing low value personal injury claims in road traffic accidents, or employers’ and public liability claims.
Strict Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) apply to running such claims, requiring parties to follow specific procedural steps and imposing tight deadlines within a framework of low fixed costs.
Within this strict procedural context, the Claims Portal provides a swift and secure electronic communication system for the exchange of all relevant information and documentation between the lawyers and insurers.
The Claims Portal was introduced to ensure that low value claims can be dealt with quickly and efficiently, and operates by way of a system of notifications and responses that are inputted by the parties.
In this way the Claims Portal ensures that:
- The defendant pays damages and costs without the need for the claimant to initiate court proceedings.
- The claimant’s damages are paid within a reasonable time.
- The claimant’s legal representative receives the fixed costs at each appropriate stage.
When is the Claims Portal used?
The pre-action protocols that set out the procedural framework for dealing with low value personal injury claims, stipulate that where the relevant protocol requires information to be sent to a party it must be sent via the Claims Portal at www.claimsportal.org.uk.
As the claimant, you are also required to give an e-mail address for contact in the Claim Notification Form (CNF). Any written communications not required by the protocol must be sent via e-mail.
There are various standard forms that the parties need to use under the Claims Portal procedure. These include the following:
- Claim Notification Form (Form RTA 1/EL1/ELD1/PL1)
- Defendant Only Claim Notification Form (Form RTA 2/EL2/ELD2/PL2)
- Medical Report Form (Form RTA 3/EPL3)
- Interim Settlement Pack Form (Form RTA 4/EPL4)
- Stage 2 Settlement Pack Form (Form RTA 5/EPL5)
- Court Proceedings Pack (Part A) Form (Form RTA 6/EPL6)
- Court Proceedings Pack (Part B) Form (Form RTA 7/EPL7).
What types of claim can be dealt with via the Claims Portal?
The Claims Portal is specifically designed to facilitate the claims process for “low value” personal injury claims. The relevant lower and upper limits under the pre-action protocols are as follows:
- Where the claimant values the claim for personal injury, ie; compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, at not less than £1,000.
- Where the claimant values the claim at not more than £25,000 on a full liability basis, including pecuniary losses but excluding interest.
In a road traffic accident claim, any “vehicle related damages” are specifically excluded for the purposes of valuing the claim. Vehicle related damages means damages for the pre-accident value of the vehicle, vehicle repair, the vehicle insurance excess and vehicle hire.
In the event that a claim is, at any stage, re-valued at more than the protocol upper limit of £25,000, the relevant protocol will cease to apply and the claim will be removed from the Claims Portal. The claim instead will be dealt with under the standard pre-action protocol for personal injury claims.
How does the Claims Portal process work?
There are three stages in the Claims Portal process: investigation, negotiation and litigation.
- Stage 1: investigation – your solicitor will complete the CNF and send this to the defendant’s insurers via the Claims Portal. This initiates a process in which the defendant must respond within a strict set timeframe. However, the claim will only stay within the portal system if the defendant admits liability in full.
- Stage 2: negotiation – liability having been admitted, your solicitor will need to submit the Stage 2 settlement pack. This should include any medical report(s), evidence of financial losses/disbursements and any offer of settlement. The defendant must make a payment of Stage 1 fixed costs at this stage. A further timeframe is then set for the claimant and defendant to negotiate and reach a settlement figure.
- Stage 3: litigation – in the event that agreement is reached, the defendant must pay the Stage 2 fixed costs and agreed disbursements. Where quantum cannot be agreed, there will be a paper only hearing for the court to determine the amount of damages.
Where liability is denied or an allegation of contributory negligence is made, the claim must be dealt with through the courts in the normal manner.
If the claim falls out of the portal then the usual pre-action protocols apply and the CNF is treated as the letter of claim. The time limits will begin from the initial acknowledgement of the claim by the defendant or insurer.
What are the pros and cons of using the Claims Portal?
The Claims Portal was introduced to reduce operational costs and to facilitate the quick and efficient resolution of low value personal injury claims. As such, the Claims Portal provides users with a number of benefits, including:
- Decisions can be communicated quickly and easily, significantly reducing timescales and speeding up the overall claims process. The defendant, or insurer, can no longer drag their feet. If deadlines are missed, the claim will fall out of the portal and the defendant may face increased costs.
- The cost of communications, and the entire claims process, is significantly reduced compared with a claim that falls outside this system.
- Information can be transferred between parties in a swift, secure and efficient way.
- By including some basic validation checks, the portal helps to avoid inconsistent, incomplete or incorrect information being exchanged.
Notwithstanding the benefits of using the Claims Portal, it is not without it’s pitfalls. Common problems arising out of the portal system include the following:
- There are strict deadlines in place for each stage of the process, and if you breach any of these deadlines then the claim will be rejected from the portal. The cost thereafter of pursuing your claim could easily escalate.
- Where inadequate information has been provided in the CNF for the defendant to investigate the claim, the defendant may decide that the claim should no longer continue under the relevant protocol and the claim will exit the portal.
- A claimant can remove a claim from the portal if there are complex issues of law or fact. However if the court holds that this was unreasonable, then only fixed costs will be awarded.
- Not all low value personal injury claims can be dealt with via the portal. This includes claims where the value of the injury falls below £1,000. There are also specific exceptions under the rules, for example, where the claimant is bankrupt, or the defendant is insolvent and there is no identifiable insurer.
Should I take legal advice?
If you have suffered a personal injury you should always seek expert legal advice. In many cases your claim will fall within the scope of the pre-action protocols for low value personal injury claims that require your case to be submitted via the online Claims Portal.
A solicitor experienced in personal injury claims will be able to ensure that all requirements, including the strict time limits and provision of mandatory information, are complied with, to ensure that your claim is dealt with in the most cost effective and expeditious way.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.