Factory flaw

first_imgThe newly announced Claims Process for RTA claims valued up to £10,000 is the latest attack on the rights of those injured in road traffic accidents. The outstanding ‘achievement’ of the Predictable Costs regime is that many claimants are now represented by so-called claim factories, that are forced to employing cheap, inexperienced clerks to run PI claims. It seems this rot is set to worsen with the vast majority of cases under the new regime attracting costs of only £1,200. This is compounded by a regime that, among other limitations, forces the claimant to accept the opinion of a medical expert, which simply cannot be challenged, and which must be disclosed 15 days from finalisation. This means that claimants will no longer be able to exercise their right to challenge the opinion of a medical expert or obtain alternative evidence before disclosure. Much worse, claimants will no longer be able to await the expiry of a declared prognosis period to ensure it is actually accurate, before having their claim resolved. How many claimants will have their claims forcibly adjudicated by the court during a prognosis period, only to return to their solicitors months after to complain that they are still suffering? In (what will no doubt be rare) cases, where the prognosis period does expire before the claim is resolved, there are provisions within the new rules to allow for medical opinion to be obtained outside of the process, and for oral hearings to take place. However, in such cases the claimant will effectively have to obtain alternative evidence to defeat his or her primary medical evidence and convince the court the latter evidence is correct, while costs will remain restricted to the paltry sums allowed by the regime. Claimant solicitors should be forgiven for having little enthusiasm to take such cases forward, given the risks and self-defeating financial implications involved in doing so. Whether at that point solicitor practices will even be able to afford to employ those with the necessary expertise to do so is also highly questionable. We can however take comfort from the fact that the latter situation will be rarity, as most cases will be forced to under-settle before the prognosis period expires. Christopher Hibbert, Sheldon Davidson Solicitors, Manchesterlast_img