2013 saw the vertical and horizontal extension of the Pre-Action Protocols for Low Value Personal Injury Claims, extending the range of claims included into Employers Liability and Public Liability and increasing the scope of the protocols to claims with a value of up to £25,000.
Whilst the number of claims presented reached a peak of 985,018 in 2015-16, since that point in time the number of claims presented relating to motor accident, EL accidents, EL single employer disease and PL accidents has decreased steadily, as shown below.
The fall in the number of claims presented has seen an increase in the proportion of claims retained within the Portal at Stage 1. In RTA claims the proportion retained within the Portal at Stage 1 in 2019 Q1 was 81.1%, whereas the average in 2017 was 76.5%, in EL Accident claims the 2019 Q1 average was 56.6% against the 2017 average of 53.1% and in PL claims the 2019 Q1 average was 43.8% against the 2017 average of 40.9%; there was a slight decrease in the proportion of EL Disease claims retained (55.2% against the 2017 average of 56.1%).
Whilst the increase in retained claims may in part relate to the type of claims presented, it is reasonable to assume that it also reflects an increase in the expertise of claims handlers and the time available to them to assess liability.
Whilst the number of claims presented has decreased, the average general damages paid on claims settled within the Low Value Protocol has increased in all four areas since 2016, as shown below. This will stem from a combination of inflation and the resolution of a greater number of higher value claims presented through the Portal, although the rate of inflation of the damages paid has not been dramatic.
The implementation of whiplash reform and the increase in the small claims track, which are expected to take effect from 2020, should be expected to see a significant proportion of motor claims presented fall with the tariff scheme for whiplash claims and the extended small claims track.
Insofar as Casualty claims are concerned, the increase in the small claims track limit to £2,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity will be significantly below the average general damages paid in EL accident, EL disease and PL claims falling within the scope of the Portal. Whilst a proportion of Casualty claims will be caught by the increase in the small claims track, the effect of the forthcoming reforms should not be expected to be significant in the arena of Casualty claims.