Casualty compensators getting hit twice by recent JCG increases

Author: Chris Stubbs


March saw the arrival of the new 17th Edition of the Judicial College Guidelines and, with it, we saw a significant 22% rise in damages for injuries typically settled within the MoJ Claims Portal process. 

In addition to this unprecedented rise in damages, compensators are exposed to a further financial penalty if a claim were to exit the MoJ Portal process. This is particularly relevant to casualty compensators due to their significantly higher proportion of liability timeouts within the MoJ Portal, compared to their motor counterparts.

Published claims portal figures for March show a combined 1,917 of 4,876 ELPL claims leaving the portal process due to no liability decision being made in time, that’s a liability timeout rate of 39.3%.

Compare this to portal motor claims, since the introduction of the whiplash tariff and the OIC portal, motor claims no longer timeout due to no liability decision, liability is automatically admitted. There are however still claims over £5k in value being submitted in the MoJ claims portal.  Therefore some portal motor claims are still able to exit the portal process due to no liability decision, for March that figure was 1,028 of a combined OIC & MoJ claim count of 27,932, which is a timeout rate of just 3.68%.

ELPL claims have more than a staggering 1000% increased rate of liability timeout than motor.

Those ELPL claims that have timed out are now setup for a double whammy from the recent JCG increase and it’s to do with how claimant’s solicitor costs are calculated. Let me explain.

Assuming these ELPL claims settle on or after the date the court lists the claim for trial, but before trial, the costs payable to the claimant solicitor would be £3,303 plus an amount equivalent to 20% of the damages. That 20% is now applied to a damages valuation based on the JCG 17th edition. Taking the average ELPL PSLA settlement, and adding 22%, this additional 20% costs award is increasing from £1,100 to £1,342.

This can be avoided!

Let’s compare this to the claimant solicitor costs if the claim were to be retained within the claims portal process. Stage 1 & 2 fixed costs of £900 would apply. A difference of £3,745.

Let’s imagine a scenario for March’s published ELPL figures, that half of the timed out ELPL claims had liability admitted within the claims portal deadline, instead of timing out. That’s an eye watering £3.5m potential costs saving for March alone.

Extrapolating further, that’s potentially in the region of £43m a year that is going to claimant solicitors that perhaps doesn’t need to.

Based on average OIC motor settlement values, Claimant solicitors will likely be lucky if they can make £380 per claim if they have a Damages Based Agreement with the claimant allowing them to retain 20% of any damages awarded to the claimant. Compare this against a potential £4,645 costs award on an ELPL claim.

It’s a good time to be claimant casualty lawyer.

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