Head of Market Affairs
No big surprises in MoJ’s response to the ‘future provision of medical reports’ consultation
The Ministry of Justice has issued its response to last spring’s consultation on the ‘Future Provision of Medical Reports in Road Traffic Accident related personal injury claims’. Published this week, the response doesn’t contain any big surprises, and is broadly in line with the general industry view:
- MedCo’s scope will be extended to enable all initial medical reports for RTA related PI claims under £5,000 to be obtained via a single system
- The provision of initial reports for non-soft tissue PI claims will be limited to GPs and A&E consultants
- Fixed recoverable costs will be extended to apply to all initial RTA related non-soft tissue injury medical reports for claims under £5,000
- New customer care qualifying criteria, standard service level agreements and accessible information for claimants will be developed for Medical Reporting Organisations (MROs) and Direct Medical Experts (DMEs).
The Government response was much as we expected. We’re particularly pleased that the Government held firm on its proposals to maintain the restriction on the types of medical experts able to provide initial medical reports, and to extend the fixed recoverable costs regime, in the face of a fairly sizeable chunk of opposition from the claimant lawyer and MRO lobbies.
We are concerned though that the Government continues to underestimate the likely volume of non-soft tissue claims. Though they increased their original estimate from 5% to 6% in light of some of the consultation responses, we believe that this will still fall woefully short of the actual number – our experience shows that personal injury claims tend to follow the most lucrative path, which as a result of these reforms is likely to be non-soft tissue injuries.
This fear is heightened all the time that CMCs are without a cap on the amount that they can claim from personal injury claimants - with the PPI deadline behind us, CMC activity is already ramping up in the PI space.
Even with a cap, it is foreseeable that the number of cases with multiple injury types will increase so negating the financial benefits of the new tariff and even potentially the SCT increase. A cap may however serve to mitigate that behaviour in terms of frequency and so should be seen as a key feature in the Government’s ambition to reduce frequency and cost of claims for the benefit of premium payers. We continue to press the FCA to implement this consumer safeguard.
We also continue to track the increasingly unpredictable activity within Westminster with our focus being on the Statutory Instrument required to enable the whiplash elements of the Civil Liability Act. The prospect of a General Election is looming large and is certainly now just a timing issue. It is unlikely that the SI will be seen prior to that event and so its fate is increasingly looking like it is tied in to the outcome of that election. We will continue to keep clients closely appraised.