Minors and Protected Parties Exempt to Whiplash Reform Portal
As of next spring RTA claims worth up to £5,000, for both represented and unrepresented litigants, will go through the new whiplash portal for accidents occurring after the launch date, likely to be from 6 April 2020. There will be qualifying questions that will aim to filter out cases worth more than £5,000 and litigants will be told about their options if they are.
The proposed whiplash portal is intended to cover injuries arising from accidents occurring after 6th April and will raise the small claims track limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for injuries sustained in a Road Traffic Accidents.
The new portal system is intended to streamline the process without the need for the involvement of lawyers, however it presents a potential problem, in cases involving children and protected parties. Pursuant to CPR 21, any proposed settlement must be approved by the court and provision of an opinion on the merits of any proposed settlement, usually from Counsel.
The government has decided that it will exempt children and protected parties from the increase in the small claims track limit to £5,000.00 for RTA related personal injury claims. The decision removes what was likely to be a difficult element to build into the portal, given the need for court approval of any settlement for a protected party. This will mean that children and protected parties will not be subject to the current iteration of the IT platform and Pre Action Protocol.
The Ministry of Justice consider that this approach will enable the government to test the process and ensure that it will run successfully for non-vulnerable claimants who do not need pre-existing additional protections provided for by the court, before considering whether it should be extended to other claimants.