Damages Claims Portal: an update for defendants
On 30 May 2022, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) confirmed that changes to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) requiring defendant legal representatives to use the Damages Claims Portal (DCP) from 2 June 2022 have been postponed. HMCTS will announce a new date in due course.
Until that time, we will continue to handle claims served on us in the DCP, although it is not a requirement under the CPR at this stage.
Defendant mandation is expected to be implemented from 15 September 2022.
The DCP was launched in May 2021 as a pilot and became mandatory for claimant legal representatives for relevant claims from 4 April 2022. The DCP covers most damages claims in the County Court, with some exceptions, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Where there are more than three parties.
- Where the defendant is based in Wales, or the claim is in Welsh.
- PPI claims.
- Money Claims Online.
- Small claim road traffic accidents (dealt with in the OIC Portal).
- Claims for service outside the jurisdiction.
- Claims where financial assistance is required for court fees.
The DCP allows users to issue claims for unspecified and specified sums. Whilst there have not yet been any amendments to the Practice Direction governing the use of the portals, this recent update to the CPR deals with one of the grey areas within the DCP in terms of where to issue claims for specified sums. Money Claims Online is still available and its use encouraged in claims for specified sums.
Following confirmation in April 2022 that the DCP would become mandatory for claimant legal representatives, it was expected that changes to the CPR mandating the use of the DCP for defendants would follow quickly. Although the 145th Practice Direction allowing for this next update was approved by Sir Vos on 11 May 2022, the latest announcement from HMCTS is for a postponement of this next step.
Unfortunately, HMCTS has not given an explanation for this delay but as outlined above, we are continuing to handle claims in the DCP. Doing so enables us to share knowledge and experience of the DCP before it becomes mandatory, and allows us to provide practical guidance with regard to the operation of the DCP and the benefits and/or teething issues with the portal.
To ensure that we can identify claims issued in the DCP quickly and efficiently, we have created dedicated client DCP email addresses. Furthermore, our working group is coordinating responses to the changes expected, as the scope of the DCP extends to cover more of the claims process. We are continuing to monitor the operation of the DCP and client experience, along with providing ongoing training. We are also liaising with FOIL (the Forum of Insurance Lawyers) to understand the difficulties that are being experienced in the wider insurance market.
Delivering a more efficient, fast and accessible service are the key drivers behind the Court’s introduction of the DCP, which forms part of HMCTS’s goal to provide an integrated online digital service for resolving civil claims.
We support such a goal and therefore, although the mandated use of the DCP has been delayed, we will continue to handle claims served on us using the DCP and look forward to HMCTS confirming a new date for mandatory implementation as soon as possible.
Related article: Damages Claims Portal: mandatory for defendants from 2 June 2022