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extension of RTA Scheme

25 October 2012

Earlier this week the Master of the Rolls Department confirmed to its key stakeholders that the long discussed extension of the RTA portal to include employers liability ( EL ) and public liability ( PL ) claims up to £25,000 in damages remains set for implementation in April 2013. A draft 21 page protocol has been distributed for our formal responses.

Changes to the way claims are processed in line with the new protocol will include tighter timescales on the provision of information, the instruction of experts, and, significantly, costs limitations arising from a fixed costs regime.

The draft protocol envisages that the proposed time limits will see Defendants required to confirm a decision on liability within 30 working days for EL and 40 working days for PL claims on all accidents arising after 1st April 2013 (30 days from the letter of claim in the case of a disease claim).

The draft protocol sets out 10 exceptions to claims not falling within the portal and these include situations where the claimant or defendant is deceased; in disease claims, where there are multiple defendants; clinical negligence claims; child abuse, harm or neglect claims; and mesothelioma claims.

Nonetheless it appears that the majority of sub £25,000 claims will now be subject to the revised process.

The timescales imposed, even tighter than those contained within the existing pre-action protocols, will inevitably mean that proposed Defendants will be required to act very quickly to collate the information necessary to respond with an early decision on liability. With EL and PL claims attracting inherently more lines of enquiry and investigation, often relying in turn on the support of the various service departments, the challenge is clear to see.

Regardless of that, the existing RTA portal has had significant beneficial impact in reducing claim times and costs. Ultimately, whilst the fixed costs regime is yet to be debated, the extended portal ought to have the same effect on EL and PL claims, if Defendants can be prepared to adopt a proactive approach to the front-end loading of investigations.

We are keen to help and can provide any training needs you may have in relation to the operation of the portal itself and the proposed protocol. Additionally, we can help you train your own departments on the need for early evidence which should then mean you can reap the undoubted costs rewards.

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