Justice secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the government intends to press ahead with its plans to overhaul fixed recoverable fees for RTA Portal claims.
Not budging from its initial recommendations in November of last year, Grayling outlined that fixed recoverable costs for RTA Portal claims up to £10,000 will be cut from £1200 to £500. The only difference is that implementation will be delayed until the end of April.
In addition, fixed costs for RTA claims worth up to £25,000 will be set at £800, while the horizontal expansion of the Portal will start from the end of July covering employer and public liability claims. Fees will be set at £900 for cases up to £10,000 and £1600 for cases worth up to £25,000.
The announcement comes a little more than 2 days before a judicial review led by APIL and MASS on the influence of the insurance industry lobby and the reasons behind the government’s cost calculations.
Despite evidence to suggest otherwise, the government said it was “reasonable and proportionate to consider referral fees as relevant to the costs and to propose adjustment to fixed recoverable costs in the light of the forthcoming referral fee ban.”
In the announcement, Grayling added, “I want to see claims handled quickly and efficiently so accident victims with genuine cases can be compensated as soon as possible. That is why following consultation and careful consideration I have confirmed that changes to the digital system used for settling uncontested road accident claims will take place this year.”
“From April the costs lawyers can charge for using the scheme will be reduced to reflect the work and costs involved and from July the system will be expanded to include higher-value claims and accidents at work or in public places.
“These changes, along with our wider reforms, are intended to bring more balance to the system, make lawyers’ costs proportionate and in turn create an environment where insurers can pass on savings to their customers through lower premiums.”
I can only question whether he is placing the interests of insurers above the access to justice for injured people?
The Government didn’t commit to a formal review within a set timeframe, but did say it is prepared to “review and assess the effectiveness of the scheme should evidence be provided to demonstrate that this is necessary.”
Bott and Co Managing Partner, Paul Hinchliffe commented on the announcement “It’s disappointing that with Grayling’s continued refusal to reconsider the portal costs I can only question whether he is placing the interests of insurers above the access to justice for injured people? There is no guarantee motor insurance premiums will be reduced and even if they are, victims will no longer receive 100% of their compensation as they will have to pay their legal costs. So this ‘saving’ is totally negated and the public lose out once again.’”