The Issues:The Claimant was pursuing a claim for personal injuries within the MOJ protocol for low value RTA claims and had purchased an ATE insurance policy with a fixed premium of over £400 (inc IPT). The case settled at Stage 2 of the protocol and the Defendant argued that the ATE premium was unreasonable on the basis that had the Claimant taken out a policy with a staged premium, then the premium could have been as low as £80 taking into account the stage the case had reached.
The Defendant's evidence was in the form of a supporting witness statement which attached a number of staged policies. These had various premiums ranging from £80 to £100 should the case settle in stage 1 or 2 of the MOJ protocol for low value RTA claims, but which increased at defined points, e.g. proceedings issued, and could (in the examples) rise to £1,795 or £3,000 should the case reach trial. No expert evidence was provided.
Held: District Judge Reeves agreed with the Claimant's argument that without expert evidence he was unable to compare the examples of staged premiums provided by the Defendant with the fixed premium being challenged. As the Defendant had failed to provide sufficient examples of any fixed premiums significantly cheaper than that being claimed, the premium was awarded in full.
• The Defendant in this matter was trying to compare staged premiums with fixed premiums, with the benefit of hindsight. However, in reality when a Claimant is arranging an ATE policy they do not know if the case will settle in stages 1 or 2 of the MOJ protocol for low value RTA claims, or if the case will drop out and go further, and therefore this approach appears unreasonable.
• In Rogers v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (2006) the Court of Appeal confirmed that it was not legitimate to compare a premium payable in a staged premium with that of a fixed premium, and that district or costs judges will be ‘imperilled' if they attempt to assess the reasonableness of ATE premiums, except in very broad brush terms, without expert evidence.