The government has proposed that all initial whiplash reports should be subject to a fixed fee as part of a package of new reforms to the claims process.
Justice minister Lord Faulks (pictured) set out the proposed fees and a new protocol for RTA claims in a letter to solicitors and insurers last week.
Proposed fees for GPs and physiotherapists are set at £180, with £420 for a report from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
The cost of obtaining medical records is set to be limited to £80 in total.
The fees are a result of a series of stakeholder events and working group meetings where claimant and defendant representatives had their say about the best way to deal with whiplash claims.
The idea of whiplash panels was introduced last year following a lengthy consultation over the best way to reduce the number of RTA claims for soft tissue damage.
It is understood that all parties came to a general agreement over the need to fix fees for medical reports in whiplash, as well as a process for allowing only accredited experts to conduct the examinations.
But Faulks’ letter hints at divisions in the talks over what happens to claimant representatives that obtain an initial report outside the fixed-fee scheme.
In this instance, the Ministry of Justice proposes that the defendant representative should be able to make an offer before the examination.
The government said it was minded to permit such pre-medical offers – a regular source of complaint from claimant groups – in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and agreed with defendants that tough sanctions were needed to deter people from working outside the scheme.
As a ‘preliminary measure’, the government will also seek to ban either party from having a financial interest in an intermediary making the medical report.
On 20 March, Faulks wrote to the working groups to direct them to consider the development of options for a system of fixed costs in the civil procedure rules for the provision of medical reports.
In response to this direction a consultative letter - dated 2 May - has now been published seeking views from stakeholders on the proposals.
Written responses should be received by 28 May, with the civil procedure rule committee meeting on 4 June to discuss the feedback.
New rules and protocol should be implemented by October.