A multi-million pound portal claim?

Cable v Liverpool Victoria Insurance – Liverpool County Court (Appeal No 128 of 2018)

This was a case which should have been relatively straight forward, at least that’s what the Defendant thought upon receipt of a Claim Notification Form from the Claimant’s Solicitors.

The matter concerned a Road Traffic Accident which occurred in September 2014, after which the  Claimant instructed a firm of Solicitors to represent him and pursue a claim. A Claim Notification Form was sent to the Defendant, thus dealing with the matter under the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents from 31 July 2013 “portal process”, this is for cases with a value of £1,000.00 to £25,000.00.

The Defendant made an early admission of liability, and as such the Defendant thought that the  matter would be capable of resolution through the portal process.

The Claimant obtained medical evidence which provided details of the Claimant’s absences from work, no definitive prognosis had been provided and a deferral to a Neurologist had been made. An interim payment of £1,000.00 was obtained from the Defendant, however no further updates were provided to the Defendant as to the evidence which had been obtained.

As the limitation period was approaching, the Claimant later issued a Part 8 Claim Form under paragraph 16.1 of Practice Direction 8B to CPR 8. The Claimant was seeking a stay in order to comply with the RTA Protocol, however the loss of earnings at that point was in excess of £200,000.00; the  matter was therefore not suitable for the portal process.

An Order was made granting a stay until 20th August 2018 and the Claimant was ordered to provide a copy of the Claim Form to the Defendant by 20th August 2017; this direction was not complied with until February 2018.

In August 2018, and for the first time in the case, the Defendant was informed of the case it was being expected to meet. The  Claimant’s Solicitors informed the Defendant that the Claimant had lost his £130,000.00 per year job; it was suggested that the matter was not suitable for the RTA Protocol and a transfer to Part 7 was to be sought. The neurological medical evidence was disclosed, to which the Defendant raised concerns with the Claimant’s conduct.

The Claimant issued an Application to lift the stay and transfer the matter to Part 7. An Order was subsequently  made lifting the stay and requiring an amended Claim Form and Particulars of Claim to be served but the Claimant did not comply with this direction .

The Defendant sought to oppose the transfer to Part 7 and issued an Application in September 2018 seeking to set this Order aside (thereby keeping the stay in place) and to strike out the claim. The case came before DJ Campbell in October 2018 who granted the Defendant’s Application.

The Claimant sought to appeal this decision.  The appeal came before HHJ Wood QC who confirmed that when coming to her decision DJ Campbell adopted the correct approach in relation to abuse of process and refused the appeal.

This case is important to Claimant practitioners, as it demonstrates  the importance of accurately valuing the case prior to submitting the claim to any of the Portal processes. Even if you do submit the matter in good faith (believing the matter is suitable for the portal process), you should actively consider if the matter remains suitable for the portal process and inform the Defendant if you believe if it is not (7.76 of the RTA Protocol and 7.59 of the EL/PL Protocol).

This blog was written by Matthew Waring who is an Associate in the Costs and Litigation Funding Team at Clarion. Matthew can be contacted on 0113 288 5639 or at Matthew.Waring@clarionsolicitors.com

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