Personal injury lawyers have dropped a proposed legal challenge to the establishment of a panel of independent experts for whiplash diagnosis.
Several firms submitted an application earlier this year to the High Court in Manchester in opposition to MedCo, the online portal set up as part of the government’s crackdown on exaggerated or fraudulent claims.
Minutes of this month’s MedCo board meeting reveal the Ministry of Justice was preparing for two possible judicial review attempts – the other coming from a medical reporting organisation.
But Mark Jones, a partner at north-west firm JMW Solicitors, who had been acting for the PI lawyers' group, confirmed today that a decision had been taken to discontinue attempts to seek a review.
‘Despite agreement on the merits of the action, those firms involved simply came to the conclusion that the costs which they would incur in pursuing the case were prohibitive,’ said Jones.
‘Even if the action had been successful, it is now likely that MedCo itself would have remained and merely incorporated such changes as necessary to abide by a court ruling in our favour.’
Jones said the MoJ and law firms had made an agreement on costs to allow all sides to walk away.
The MedCo board minutes also confirmed that the company has completed the audit of tier-one medical reporting organisations - those with the greatest capacity to assess claims - and will contact the MROs with its decision.
MedCo today issued an additional statement clarifying the quota rules for experts being selected at random for diagnosing suspected whiplash claims.
The statement said it is the requirement of the MoJ that medical experts are randomly and fairly presented in searches for the geographical area they cover.
MedCo uses a ‘count of presentations’ called the ‘tally’ to generate search results when solicitors choose to instruct from seven MROs.
The system ensures that once an MRO or expert is chosen, all seven have their tally incremented by one, and they will not appear in any search results until other MROs or experts in their area have the same tally.
MedCo said its systems of accreditation, audit and peer review will ensure suppliers all meet minimum standards of quality.
The system is designed to give each provider a fair chance of being selected and remove certain MROs from getting a monopoly on work. Any financial links between MROs and instructing law firms are already banned by the scheme.