Guest Post: John Spencer on How Britain’s Legal System will be affected come April 2013

John Spencer on How Britain’s Legal System will be affected come April 2013


Civil Procedure Rules Committee (CPRC) member John Spencer explains reasoning behind two key protocol extensions

In April 2013 two new protocols are to be introduced; one extending the existing low value Road Traffic Accident PI protocol from £10,000 to £25,000 of damages, and the other covering employers (EL) and public liability (PL) cases, subject to some proposed exceptions, again up to £25,000 of damages.
I am part of the CPRC sub-committee which is drafting the changes, as a claimant director of Portal Co – this blog is an update on progress.

Road Traffic Accidents
The changes necessitated by the limit increase in low value RTA cases from £10,000 to £25,000 will reflect the principally evidential requirements necessitated by injury cases of greater severity.

 
Employer & Public Liability Cases
Damage limits have been extended to the same bracket of £25,000 and, for consistency, the employer’s & public liability protocol is expected to run parallel to that of the RTA.  However, there likely will be unique elements to these cases that need incorporating, for example different time frames and new definitions.

There are also plans to exclude contributory negligence from the EL/PL protocol which is for admitted cases only.  ‘Contributory negligence’ applies when it is alleged that a claimant is at some fault for causing their own injuries (i.e. slipping on a wet floor because they were reading a text message and not looking forward).  It has been removed because there is no feature that matches the ‘seat belt’ provision in the RTA protocol in terms of simplicity of evaluation.

Possible exception cases to the protocol:
Some disease cases
Clinical negligence cases
Abuse cases

Ministry of Justice’s Role
Although the CPRC and its sub-committee are tasked with drafting the protocol extensions, both parties have no part in the policy making behind the changes – this duty rests with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

April 2013 is the deadline month for the MoJ to implement protocol changes which has always been and remains a very challenging deadline, even more so with the protocols still not finalised and approved.  Professor Fenn of Nottingham University Business School has urged the government to reintroduce and extend a clear link between damages and legal fees.  He has previously expressed concern that terminating the link has seen damages levels reduce an average of as 6% with the result that injured people are seeing lower levels of compensation on average.

What next for Portal Co?
Portal Co is responsible for developing and providing the electronic portal for these protocols.  The portal will need to comply with both protocol changes.  The existing RTA portal suppliers, CRIF Decision Solutions, have been reselected to develop new software changes.

CRIF are contracted to provide support on the portal until 2015 and will be working alongside MIB MSL, who manage the portal on behalf of Portal Co.  Although all developments cannot be installed until the protocols are finalised, CRIF continue to work to a deadline that will enable implementation in April 2013, providing there are not significant changes required to the draft protocol.

About the Author

John Spencer is a senior personal injury solicitor whose practice deals with all types of personal injury cases including road traffic accident claims. He is a Claimant Director of the RTA Portal company board and an Executive Committee member and fellow of APIL.  He is also a former Chairman of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS).