Carpenters Group director Donna Scully lays out what she feels should be the next steps in improving the usage of the OIC portal

In January 2022, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced that it is commissioning research as to why litigants in person (LiP) are not using the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal. It is pleasing that the MoJ is taking this step, particularly given the enormous sums the industry has spent on building the portal.

The MoJ is asking: ‘why aren’t consumers using the OIC portal?’ Any claimant lawyer reading this piece knows the answer - the legal process is too difficult.

Donna Scully 2020 Headshot

Donna Scully

The research announcement highlights the failure of the MoJ to take on board the comments of claimant representatives, who are best placed to inform the MoJ in this area and who repeatedly made this point about difficult portal processes pre-reforms.

While this review is welcome, the MoJ should also review the operation of the portal to date and why so many consumers have had their claims delayed by the introduction of the new process.

More than 90% of consumers are represented on the OIC portal and these consumers have faced delays at each stage of the process - uploading claims, submitting medical reports as well as other evidence and negotiating settlements. The courts have seen far fewer claims than expected and it seems likely that more problems will arise as cases eventually reach the litigation process.

These issues can no longer be described as ‘teething problems’. They apply across the industry and can be confirmed by the tiny number of represented customers who have been able to settle their claim in the first six months – 1.6%.

The process for the identification of issues needs to be improved - there needs to be a proper user group and the timescales for resolution need to be significantly reduced. Without these changes, the number of consumers suffering delayed access to justice will only increase.

It is now time for the MoJ firstly, to recognise the scale of the problems and secondly, to give the Motor Insurers’ Bureau the resources it needs to resolve the issues.