Designers of the new claims portal for litigants in person have sounded a positive note after the first wave of testing. The Motor Insurers Bureau is tasked with creating and implementing the system through which both lawyers and unrepresented claimants can pursue an RTA claim.
The government has repeatedly stated the system will go live in April, but experts have warned there is not enough time to ensure the portal will be fully functional. Today, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) again called for a delay to the start date, stating that accident victims will be denied access to justice.
While uncertainty about the unspecified tariff levels for compensation and the unresolved civil procedure rule changes, the MIB has told the Gazette that it continues to make, build and develop the system as planned. Updates were not forthcoming during the purdah of the general election period, but the organisation has now confirmed that in November it completed the first of two testing phases.
‘Feedback from consumer testing so far has been very positive and coupled with insights from accessibility testing, the results are helping us identify areas we can improve ahead of the service launch,’ said an MIB spokeperson.
The next phase of testing is due to start this month covering the full process, with further feedback set to be published after that has been completed.
Details are also expected to be revealed about how legal professionals can register online in the run-up to the launch.
Gordon Dalyell, president of APIL, told the Financial Times today that the portal must be delayed until there are guarantees about its performance.
He added: ‘The reforms raise real issues in terms of access to justice. To expect lay people to become used to using complex software is a challenge.’ Last month APIL had argued that unrepresented claimants using the portal were ‘blindly heading into the unknown’ by using the portal.
The new system is part of wider changes brought about by the Civil Liability Act. The small claims limit for RTA claims is due to increase to £5,000 from April, meaning legal costs for those cases cannot be recovered. This, in addition to the reduced damages levels, is designed to reduce the cost of claims and result in insurance premiums falling.