The Road Traffic Accident Protocol applies to all claims for damages arising from a Road Traffic Accident (RTA); in the new version, the use of the portal is mandatory with the upper limit being set at £25,000.00 (the old upper limit had been £10,000.00). If at any point during the proceedings, the Defendant is made aware that the claim has a value which supersedes £25,000.00, the Protocol ceases to apply. However, should the claim’s value fall below £1,000.00 at any point during the course of the Protocol, the Claimant will still be entitled to Stage 1 and, in some cases, Stage 2 costs.
These fixed recoverable costs have been reduced from £1,200.00 under the old rules to £500.00 under the new rules. Please see our subsequent article regarding Fixed Costs for further details.
Once the Claim Notification Form (CNF) has been sent, the Defendant has 15 days in which to respond. The old rules apply with respect to contributory negligence, denial of liability or failure to respond insofar as the Protocol will cease to apply to that claim should any of those responses be made. However, should liability be admitted in full or admitted with contributory negligence applying solely to the Claimant’s use of a seatbelt then the claim will continue to follow the Protocol and the Defendant is required to pay Stage 1 costs within 10 days of receipt of the Stage 2 Settlement Pack.
There have been alterations to how medical evidence is dealt with in stage two with the most marked change to note being that for claims with values over £10,000.00 it is likely that the relevant medical records will need to be disclosed with the medical reports.
Following the disclosure of the Stage 2 Settlement Pack, there is a 35 day period for consideration of the claim. This is broken into two parts, the first 15 days being devoted to consideration of the information provided and the latter or remainder of the time is intended for the parties to enter into settlement negotiations. Extensions can be agreed inter partes and should an offer be made 5 days or less before the expiry of the 35 day period, there will be an additional 5 day extension for negotiations.
Once an agreement has been reached, the Defendant is required to pay the agreed damages less any CRU benefits and any applicable interim payment together with any unpaid Stage 1 or 2 fixed costs and applicable disbursements permitted pursuant to CPR 45.19 plus a success fee in accordance with provisions laid out in CPR 45.30.
The new Employer’s Liability/ Public Liability Protocol is to function much in the same vein as the RTA Protocol though some effort was made to acknowledge the greater complexity of some of these claims which have resulted in higher fixed recoverable costs. The protocol applies to employer’s liability (EL) or public liability claims (PL) valued up to £25,000.00 where the cause of action occurs on or after “the end of July 2013” (the exact date is yet to be confirmed). Industrial disease claims are covered where notification is given on or after “the end of July 2013” however Industrial Disease claims which exit the portal go straight to the standard basis cost regime and is not subject to Fixed Recoverable Costs.
In the same way that the RTA Protocol has dual tariff fixed recoverable costs for differing values, so too does the new EL and PL Protocol. Please see our subsequent article regarding Fixed Costs for further details.
For RTA, EL and PL claims which exit the protocol process, the Government has “decided to introduce a matrix of fixed recoverable costs based on Jackson’s Table B but amended both to take account of inflation since the table was first produced (in 2009), and reduced throughout by an amount intended to reflect the forthcoming ban on referral fees.
Ultimately, the aim in bringing in the Protocols was to streamline the claims process for both Claimants and Defendants and to allow for Claimants to receive compensation much sooner after the start of a claim. However, the implications for the Claimant Solicitor are that it will be difficult to run a claim under the Protocol at a profit and attention must be paid so that the costs expended in conduct of the claim are as minimal as possible to avoid running the claim at a loss. On the flip side, of course, the Claimant Solicitor will be able to expect payment of costs during the course of the claim which means a consistent source of income.