’Access to justice for those injured in road traffic accidents must remain paramount,’ says specialist personal injury legal body

“Further pressure” could be mounted on a government portal designed to streamline whiplash claims as settlement times continue to rise, a specialist personal injury legal body has said.

The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (Cilex) said the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal was “far from perfect”, with ongoing monitoring needed to ensure the portal was – and remained – fit for purpose.

Its comments came as the UK Parliament’s Justice Select Committee called for evidence on the impact of the MoJ whiplash reforms and the OIC.

The committee, which exists to examine the policies and spending of the MoJ, invited evidence on a wide range of impacts, including the number of minor personal injury claims seen since its implementation and whether reforms had reduced the cost of whiplash claims for the economy.

The most recent OIC data, published in March 2023, showed that average settlement times on the portal steadily increased from 34 days in July 2021 to 237 days in February 2023.

Cilex said the importance of concluding personal injury claims as fast as possible could not be ignored.

In a statement, it said: “Whilst Cilex appreciates that the OIC predicted the rise to this point and beyond, we are concerned that this is being seen as a norm, with average settlement times pushing closer to taking three quarters of a year to resolve.” 

The institue added that this could add “yet further pressure to an already strained legal system”.

‘Justice paramount’

The MoJ’s OIC portal came online at the end of May 2021 following a government effort to mitigate the large quantity of fraudulent minor injury claims being made following road traffic accidents.

Cilex president Matthew Huggett said the system was still seeing difficulties despite “a significant amount of work” being done to improve it.

“Settlement times are rising and claimants negotiating the portal without access to legal advice continue to experience difficulties,” he added.

“Access to justice for those injured in road traffic accidents must remain paramount.

”We would like to see better legal education, advice and guidance for those using the portal and ongoing monitoring to ensure that consumer choice is not being compromised.”