Written by Colin Richmond.
The new whiplash portal is due to launch in the spring of 2020. It is likely to cover injuries arising from accidents occurring after 6th April.
The MIB, which is in charge of building the portal, is confident that development remains on track for launch on the anticipated date. Some claimant lawyers seems less convinced that the technology will be ready on time.
As is often the case with changes such as this, information as to exactly which claims will be caught by the new process is slowly filtering through.
One important issue appears to have been clarified this week, namely the position regarding children and protected parties.
The portal is intended to provide a streamlined process, largely without the need for the involvement of lawyers. This presents a potential problem, however, in cases involving children and protected parties where, pursuant to CPR 21, any proposed settlement must be approved by the court. CPR 21.10 (1) provides that in cases involving such claimants:
“no settlement, compromise or payment (including voluntary interim payment) and no acceptance of money paid into court shall be valid, so far as it relates to the claim, on behalf of or against the child or protected party without the approval of the court.”
Further, CPR PD 21 requires that various other details must be included in any application to the court for approval, not least the provision of an opinion on the merits of any proposed settlement, usually from Counsel. Such requirements do not sit well with the, largely IT-driven, streamlined process.
It appears that this problem has now been recognised by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Legal Futures reports (8th July 2019 – link below) that the MoJ has decided to exempt “vulnerable” claimants from the new process, at least for the time being. A spokesperson is quoted as saying:
“This will mean that children and protected parties will not be subject to the current iteration of the IT platform and the pre-action protocol. The government will first consider the experience of non-vulnerable claimants using the new IT platform, before considering whether it should be extended to other claimants, including children and protected parties.”
That being the case, the seemingly difficult issue of how to provide for court approval within the streamlined IT appears to have been removed.
9th July 2019