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RTA portal should not be ‘one size fits all’, FOIL says

Call for fixed costs across fast track

29 May 2012

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The Forum of Insurance Lawyers has backed government plans to extend the RTA portal to claims worth up to £25,000, and to employers’ and public liability cases, but warned that it should not be a “one size fits all”.

Don Clarke, president of FOIL, said in response to a call for evidence from the MoJ that the portal should be “kept simple and not subjected to an expensive development programme”.

Clarke went on: “The portal should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all process and where claims need to drop out of the portal, which is more likely with employers’ liability and public liability claims, this should not be perceived as a cause for concern. “These claims should fall into a fixed-cost fast-track regime. We believe this dual approach would offer access to justice to both parties at reasonable cost.”

Clarke said the portal was an “ideal single point of entry” for claims worth up to £25,000, avoiding the potential for notifications to be sent to the wrong departments.

A spokeswoman for APIL said the RTA portal should not extended to employers’ liability cases, which should have their own portal.

“The government timetable for these reforms appears to be compromising the process, as it allows for insufficient time for independent data analysis, no time for proper procurement processes of new IT and inadequate build and testing time,” the spokeswoman said.

She said it was “misconceived and illogical” for the fixed fee for portal work to be reduced simply because of the government commitment to banning referral fees.

“Those firms currently paying referral fees will have to shift to other marketing models once the ban is introduced. All marketing costs money.”

The spokeswoman said it was “uneconomic” to agree a single fixed fee on all cases from £1,000 to £25,000.

“The work must be independently costed and discussed with claimant representatives and compensators. The industry should agree a fee rather than a fee being fixed by government. Other cost structures such as staged costs should be considered.

“The higher the value of claim, the more work involved and consequently the higher the fee should be, ensuring that there is no shortfall in costs to be recovered from the client. Insurers are already making cost savings of £275m a year from the process for lower-value RTA claims.”