Lawyers who bypass the new process risk costs litigation from insurers

The botched implementation of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)’s new fast-track system for processing road accident claims is likely to trigger an upsurge of litigation, a leading claimant lawyer has warned.

Under the new system, all RTA claims worth less than £10,000 will be processed using a new system, subject to a fixed timetable and lower costs.

As part of the shake-up, all such claims are meant to be handled via a new single IT portal. But insurers and solicitors involved in the process have complained that they have not received the passwords they need to access the portal and, as a result, they have been unable to submit or receive claims.

QBE European Operations’ head of motor claims, Tom Helm, said that his company had only received its password for the portal last week.

Groupama head of technical claims Steve Caffrey said that his company’s password had only turned up earlier this week. He added that the insurer had seen a slump in the volume of claims it had handled in the four weeks since 30 April – the ‘go live’ date for the new system.

Claimant law firm Stephensons partner Andrew Welch said that lawyers faced pressure to bypass the new process by submitting claims through the old, more expensive system.

But if solicitors took this approach, he warned that they would open themselves up to costs litigation at a later date from insurers over whether they should have used the cheaper new system. “There’s a great deal of uncertainty. The situation is deeply unsatisfactory,” he said.

Tim Wallis, chair of the steering group overseeing the new system’s introduction, admitted that his body had not ensured sufficient resources for the portal provider IDSL. He said: “There have been significant teething problems. We need further resources, because this situation is not acceptable to anybody.”

He said he expected the “vast majority” of companies would have their passwords by the end of this week.