On 1 October 2014, the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 6) Rules 2014 came into force to reform how soft tissue personal injury claims are handled. Amendments include:
1. Fixed fees for medical evidence – CPR 45.19
The fee for a standard first report will be limited to £180 (plus VAT if applicable) with fixed fees for specialist reports, obtaining medical records and replies to Part 35 questions.
2. A single medical report – CPR 35.4 (3B)
Claimants will be restricted to one expert medical report. They will need to justify any request for permission to rely on further evidence or to step outside of the fixed fee scheme.
3. Medical expert to be provided with defendant’s version of events - Para 6.19A Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents
The defendant will be able to provide its own version of events in its portal response. The claimant must provide the defendant’s version to the medical expert to consider.
4. Medical expert to be impartial – CPR 45.19 (2B)
Experts will not be allowed to offer or provide treatment to a claimant and, if they do so, they will forfeit their report fee.
5. Controlling pre-med offers – CPR 36.10A (5A)
An offer made without medical evidence will have no costs consequences until the medical report is served.
Portal to control medical evidence
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is considering consultation responses to a proposal for the creation of a portal to ensure the independence of medical experts in whiplash claims. The start up costs of the portal, ‘MedCo’, will be funded by the Association of British insurers (ABI) and pave the way for an accreditation scheme.