The government has refused to reveal an alternative date for extending the RTA Portal scheme after announcing a postponement of its 1 April target today.
As the Gazette reported before Christmas, the plan to extend the scheme to handle claims up to £25,000, as well as employer and public liability claims, had been thrown into question by the failure to set necessary protocols and rules in time for the development of software.
In a statement today, the Ministry of Justice said that Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, was ‘considering afresh the timing for implementation of the extended scheme’.
The decision was taken following a legal challenge from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers claiming that the government had failed to fully consult on the changes.
The government’s own personal injury adviser, Professor Paul Fenn, had also warned that reforms were happening too quickly.
A spokesman for the MoJ said further details were due to be announced later in the new year but could not say when they would be released.
The portal’s extension was announced last year by the government but critics questioned whether the system would be ready to accept more complex claims with such little notice.
APIL president Karl Tonks welcomed today’s postponement and said he looked forward to offering input on what the implementation date might be.
‘Our concern in this instance is that proper consideration of key issues was being sacrificed in favour of an impractical ambition to introduce extensions to the portal by April,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the government’s informal consultation on changes to the recoverable costs from claims in the portal will close on Friday.
The MoJ has proposed fixed fees for all EL and PL claims, as well as cutting fees for low-value RTA cases from £1,200 to £500.