The portal has performed ’far below even the most pessimistic expectation’, says law firm director

The Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal has “impaired access to justice and caused consumer detriment”, according to Carpenters Group director Donna Scully.

Official data released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) last week (10 October 2022) showed that claims volumes on the portal had remained low between 1 July and 30 September 2022.

In this reporting period, the OIC portal received 71,191 soft tissue personal injury motor claim notifications.

The portal has been in operation since its launch on 31 May 2021 as part of the Civil Liability Act 2018. To date, it has had a total of 351,409 claims submitted on it, according to the latest MoJ data.

Scully told Insurance Times: “We are now at the point where we can move away from opinion and look at performance data.

“The latest OIC portal data confirms what we already know – that there are continued, significant problems with the process.

”Lifecycles are going out, settlements are low and the number of claims stuck in the process are increasing.”

Scully added that new claims numbers have plateaued at roughly 70,000 claims over the last two quarters - she questioned whether these rates of new submitted claims had “settled down” or whether “additional claims will filter through as more claimant law firms are able to integrate with the portal”.

Settlement rates for claims submitted to the OIC portal since its launch was 17.3% according to the latest data, with more than a third (36.5%) of these settlements coming in the most recent reporting period between July and September this year.

Scully said: “This looks to be a very low settlement rate, but advocates of the system will say that it is not possible to make a direct comparison as this is a new process.”

Carpenters Group, however, recently compared an “identical” set of cases from before the launch of the portal with cases following the OIC portal’s introduction - in this analysis, the law firm found that the settlement rate had halved.

“The only change was the introduction of the portal,” explained Scully. “This is the clearest evidence that the OIC portal has delayed claims.

“The data provides plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the system has operated far below even the most pessimistic expectation.

“The result is that consumers are forced to under settle. The cost of living crisis means that they cannot wait for their claim to run through the process.”

Reason for optimism?

Minster Law’s chief legal officer, Matt Currie, also told Insurance Times that he was concerned about “significant issues” caused by the OIC portal.

He said: “In truth, in the 15 months since [the platform’s] launch, the rate of settlement still has some way to go before a normal run rate can be achieved and deliver the envisaged benefits.”

While Currie believes that the OIC portal’s settlement rate was “slowly improving”, he added that the rate at which claims were settling “still feels a long way off where it needs to be”.

He continued: “The lack of an ability to build application processing interface (API) links prior to [the] go live [date] meant that either claimant representatives had to struggle with a manual and massively inefficient process or build the API as claims progressed.

“From a Minster Law perspective, we were still identifying glitches in the portal build that prevented a full end-to-end API journey as late as December 2021.

“A full six months after go live, any settlements were manual and hugely time consuming. Incidentally, there was no systematic testing before the OIC [portal] went live.”

Settlement volumes for Minster Law increased four-fold between March and September 2022, according to Currie, based largely on the building of a functioning API.

He said that this trajectory was expected to continue as further upgrades and glitch fixes were released – the next significant release is planned for later in autumn this year.

Currie explained: “It feels that there is reason for optimism that the settlement rate will accelerate through the autumn and winter.

“For those with API links, the indigestion caused in the first year of the OIC portal will probably achieve a normal run rate by next spring.

“However, there will still be a backlog to resolve cases, which could well take us beyond the second anniversary of the OIC portal in June 2023.”