The company running the expanded claims portal today admitted a significant setback in meeting the government’s April deadline for handling new types of claims.

In a statement, RTA Portal Co revealed it will have to build the software for the extended system on the basis of draft protocols and rules, which are likely to change.

The Civil Procedure Rules Committee was supposed to have set the protocols and rules by 7 December, but these will now not be completed until 8 February.

The Ministry of Justice has insisted that the portal will be ready by 1 April to handle RTA claims up to £25,000 and employer and public liability claims.

But if the final rules differ from the draft version, it will be ‘more difficult’ to build an extended portal by April, the company admitted.

At a board meeting held on 12 December, members said even small amendments would result in a portal that does not reflect the protocol.

The first software update is not likely to be available until September 2013, until which some claims in the portal will have to be filed manually.

The statement said that ‘In the event that the final versions are not significantly different from the drafts, the extended portal will still be on course to be delivered by 1 April 2013, although this may be on the basis that some manual "workarounds" will have to be used until the first software amendment is implemented.’

Any delay, the board agreed, would result in additional effort and cost to Portal Co and its users. The process is set to be complicated further still by a government consultation on recoverable costs that ends on 4 January.

New fees have been set for higher-value RTA claims and EL/PL claims, while low-value costs for RTA claims are set to fall from £1,200 to £500.