LONDON, January 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
With just weeks to go before the proposed extension of the road accident claims process to include other injury claims was due to come into effect, the move is now being reconsidered.
The proposal to extend the 'RTA portal' claims system to include higher-value motor and employer's and public claims has been criticised by many as rushed and ill-conceived since it was first announced. Now, following a legal challenge to several of the proposed changes, lawyers representing the Government have said that the Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling has accepted that the decision to implement the changes in April this year "cannot stand."
Karl Tonks, a partner with Fentons Personal Injury Solicitors LLP and president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), welcomed the news as a victory for common sense.
"We have said from the outset that we do not object in principle to the introduction of changes which speed up and improve the civil justice system for the benefit of all parties," said Karl. "Our concern in this instance, however, is that proper consideration of key issues was being sacrificed in favour of an impractical ambition to introduce extensions to the RTA portal by next April."
The association instigated a judicial review process into proposed legal changes, and it is understood that as a result of this, the Secretary of State will consider afresh when the extended protocol will be implemented. The outcome of his deliberations will not be known until sometime this year.
Earlier in 2012 - following a call for evidence on proposals to extend the streamlined process for lower value RTA claims - APIL warned that unless proper time was taken to prepare the foundations for an extension, then the measures would seem doomed to fail.
"The Government is determined to extend the current streamlined process by April 2013, but none of the groundwork has been done properly and we are seriously concerned that most of the decisions appear to have been taken before the consultation has ended," Karl said last summer.
"In particular, the Government has failed to allow sufficient time to procure, build and test the necessary computer systems; they drafted protocols and rules for a committee to examine at a meeting which was scheduled to take place before the consultation period had even closed; and they repeatedly failed to publish an independent report which assessed the success of the existing streamlined scheme and its impact on access to justice.
"We know from experience that agreeing a process and developing a suitable IT system takes around 18 months," said Karl. "Rushing changes through for implementation in April 2013 was always unrealistic and risks undermining the justice system for thousands of very deserving people."
Following the Secretary of State's decision to reconsider the proposals, Karl said: "It would seem that common sense has prevailed."
"We look forward now to offering further input on what the implementation date may be."
APIL is currently considering its position in terms of bringing proceedings on other related matters raised with the Secretary of State as part of its pre-judicial review process.
SOURCE Fentons Solicitors LLP