New RTA claims fell dramatically in the first month following the cut in solicitors’ fixed fees.

Figures collected by Claims Portal Ltd show 53,895 claims notification forms opened during May. That was a fall of 31% from April and down almost 25% in comparison with the same month in 2012.

May was the first month in which claimant firms were paid £500 rather than £1,200 for each case, following a cut bitterly contested by claimant groups.

Craig Budsworth, chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), said it was too early to say whether civil justice reforms were having an effect. ‘We need to look at what happens over the next year before we can conclude they are successful or not,’ he said.

Meanwhile, solicitors have been warned they risk running out of time if they delay registering for the extended online claims portal.

From 31 July, employers’ and public liability claims will be brought into the RTA Portal, with fixed fees for practitioners.

Tim Wallis, chairman of Claims Portal Ltd, said the process had been open for more than a month and firms that are late could experience a logjam and subsequent delay.

Practitioners who need to register will have to understand the government’s new protocol and the portal account, and agree the practical detail of how claims will be handled.

The government also confirmed that the Civil Procedure Rules Committee met last week to decide the rules over the extension of the portal to employer and public liability claims. The rules will then go to ministers at the Ministry of Justice for approval.

The extension is still due to come into force on 31 July, and solicitors have expressed concern at the short timetable.