Lawyers and insurers working on final terms with completion set for November

A new code of practice to streamline the claims process for higher value claims could be agreed by November.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has given confirmation for a working party of lawyers and insurers to begin negotiating the final terms of the code,which will apply to multi-track claims. These are claims worth over £50,000 or complex, lower value ones.

The code is designed to speed up the claims process by highlighting at an earlier stage the main issues and potential areas of agreement.

A plan has already been agreed by the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil), the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (Mass) and a number of insurers.

Foil president Andrew Underwood said: "We have agreed the basic specification for project-managing the claim. The negotiations will come up with the detailed proposals."

He added: "The code is not just about fast justice, but effective engagement between the parties."

One issue that needs to be addressed is how to make parties comply with the code. Underwood said: "There will need to be an 'escape valve' to enable parties to escalate the process, for example going to arbitration or court."

He said it was hoped that negotiations would start within the next couple of months.

Once agreed there would need to be discussions with the DCA on how the code will be implemented and "how it will interact with the [civil procedure] rules", Underwood added.

Apil president Allan Gore said that although the discussions were "at an early stage", there was a "firm agenda".