So at last we have some information about the Portal to see how things are going and in summary - not very well.
Now here at Box Legal, we have history with the portal as we tried to obtain information from them about success levels etc some time ago. We needed this to show the courts when justifying our After the Event Insurance premiums. The defendant insurers were saying 'You can't have a fixed premium as there is no risk in the portal yarda yarda...[I added the last bit]'. Guess what - the portal wasn't keeping statistics! Can you believe that? Why on earth not I hear you cry - well they claim it is because the system has been designed in such a [stupid] way that it allows cases to be settled or abandoned without people notifying the portal so the data they have can never be accurate.
So this is why the Ministry of Justice has had to go back to their favourite defendant insurers and a couple of claimant solicitors to ask them how things are going. Which is daft isn't it? First, it is hardly a representative sample and second, it is open to manipulation. The report states though that, as the defendants are large, they will be providing samples from cases across the country and across a large number of claimant solicitors and therefore it will be a good sample. Unbelievable - so they are again relying mainly on data supplied by defendants. I wonder what that data will show us?
Yep - you guessed it - the data shows that the portal hasn't been all that successful. The report found a 6% reduction in damages, 3-4% reduction in costs and a 5-7% speeding up of settlement. It also found that around 50% of cases exited the portal.
Let's analyse these shall we (whilst bearing in mind who supplied the information):
- Reduction in damages - why? What relevance has the portal got to the injuries sustained by claimants? Has the portal suddenly reduced the seriousness of accidents? No. What it has done is force insurers to make early offers - and as these tend to be low, it has brought the average down. So not good news. Are solicitors now undersettling?
- Reduction in costs - great news for the defendants this one. Very little reduction in costs has been achieved - maybe because of the only slight increase in settlement speed - but in any event this figure will be used as a stick to beat down post Jackson legal costs. Nice.
- Speeding up of settlements - not a lot quicker - just 5%. Will the Jackson changes address this? No.
- Cases exiting the portal - Half of all cases have exited the portal. This is the most significant statistic and affects all of the others. What is by far the main reason? No response from the defendant or their insurer.
So there you have it. Second hand data from a small sample with mainly a defendant bias which will now be used to determine costs and the future of the PI industry. No doubt the main finding will be ignored once more- the fact that defendant insurers are not putting nearly enough resources into dealing with claims. Why? Well no doubt they are playing the long game here. Bad cost reduction figures indicate something has to be done to curb those pesky lawyers. It isn't the defendants' fault is it?