Decisions still to be made

At the recent MIB demonstration of the new Portal, MoJ officials rather pointedly highlighted that timely ministerial decisions, coupled with the new rules from the CPRC, are necessary over the coming months to enable the remaining stages of the IT build. Inevitably it is the difficult decisions that are left to last to sort out. A new ministerial team and the continued dominance of Brexit will likely not ease the decision-making process.

The Portal demonstration also confirmed what we had long suspected. It will probably deal well with a straightforward claim with no special issues or disputed liability, but if one or more of a myriad of problematic issues arise, the system as currently designed will falter. Importantly, officials conceded there is nothing to stop insurers gaming the new portal system for LiPs by simply denying liability on claims and forcing unrepresented claimants to pay costs up-front.

There are many reasons why we are so concerned about the concept of a “minimum viable product” that does not safeguard accident victims and fully support LiPs. The new Portal must be fully fit-for-purpose and properly tested ahead of launch. We currently cannot see that this will be possible with so many important decisions still to be taken.  It is a very poor decision to have dual-operating Portals, long considered the worst option, rather than full integration. Then there is the discrimination against legally represented claimants who will not benefit from several facilities available in the new LIP Portal.

It is a serious mistake that rehabilitation, credit hire and repair costs will not be integrated, creating significant loopholes. MedCo have already expressed doubts whether its extended role can be fully integrated in time. It is though very welcome that there has been movement on the issue of minors and protected parties and that they will not be included in the new portal “for now”.

The path to implementation in April 2020 remains uncertain and lots of pieces need to fall into place for the target to be reached. We should not be surprised if there was a delay. Indeed, it should be delayed if motor accident victims are not going to be protected from the outset.

This article first appeared in Modern Insurance Magazine, Issue 40, September 2019

Decisions still to be madeDecisions still to be madePaul Nicholls, author of “Decisions still to be made” is Chair, Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) and Senior Partner at Nicholls Brimble Bhol Solicitors

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