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Stage 3 Costs and Portal Costs

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What are Portal costs?

In 2012, the Government proposed the extension of the fixed costs scheme for Road Traffic Accident Claims. The Ministry of Justice set out the proposals of the amount the costs should be fixed at in the Consultation on 27 February 2013. This came into effect on 31 July 2013.

This change meant any claims with a value up to £25,000 would enter the Portal, and the Claimant would receive fixed Portal costs. The sum of recoverable costs for each stage is set out at CPR45.18.

When costs are ‘fixed’, the only costs allowed are fixed costs and disbursements.

Success fees and ATE premiums were recoverable under the old regime. However, under the new fixed scheme regime, success fees under a Conditional Fee Agreement and ATE premiums are not recoverable if the CFA or insurance is entered into after 1 April 2013.

When do fixed portal costs apply?

The Pre Action Protocol for Low-Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents apply where:

– The claim for damages involves personal injury; and 

– The value of the claim does not exceed £25,000.

Fixed costs apply to cases that match this criteria.

 

The Process of the RTA Protocol 

Stage 1

The Claimant’s legal representative must carry out a search of askCUEPI and must enter the unique reference number in the additional information box in the CNF.

The Claim Notification Form (CNF) is sent to the Defendant’s insurer. If the Defendant considers the CNF contains inadequate information, the Defendant can decide the claim should no longer continue under the Protocol. The claim will then follow the Pre Action Protocol for Personal Injury.

Within 15 days of receiving the CNF, the Defendant must complete the Insurer Response section of the CNF. This is known as the CNF Response.

Except where the Claimant is a child, the Defendant must pay the Stage 1 fixed costs and in a soft tissue injury claim, the cost of obtaining the fixed medical report and costs for obtaining medical records where liability is admitted.

Where liability is admitted, and contributory negligence is alleged in relation to the Claimant’s failure to wear a seatbelt, the Defendant must pay these costs within ten days after receiving the Stage 2 settlement pack.

 

Stage 2

The Stage 2 Settlement Pack must comprise of the Stage 2 Settlement Pack Form, any medical evidence in the form of reports, evidence of heads of losses and heads of damages, evidence of disbursements, any non-medical expert reports, witness statements and other relevant comments.

In a soft tissue claim, the Settlement Pack has no effect unless the medical report is a fixed cost medical report. Where there is more than one medical report disclosed, the first report must be a fixed costs report from a medical expert selected from the MedCo Portal.

The Stage 2 pack should be sent to the Defendant within 15 days of the Claimant approving the final medical report and agreeing to rely on the prognosis stated within that report or any non-medical expert report, whichever is later.

If the Defendant alleges contributory negligence due to the Claimant’s failure to wear a seat belt, the Stage 2 pack must suggest a percentage reduction in the amount of damages.

The Defendant has 35 days to consider the settlement pack. This comprises of a period up to 15 days for consideration of the pack and making an offer. The remainder of the 35 days is for further negotiations. However, this is not set by the RTA Protocol and can be extended by agreement between the parties.

Where the Defendant fails to respond within the consideration period, the claim will no longer proceed under this Protocol, and the Claimant may start proceedings under Part 7 of the CPR. When making a counteroffer, the Defendant must propose an amount for each head of damage. For the avoidance of doubt, any offer made under the Protocol (‘protocol offers’) are not Part 36 offers, but Protocol offers, meaning the Defendant pays the Claimant’s fixed costs.

An offer to settle made at any stage will include the Stage 1 and 2 fixed costs, an agreement to pay relevant disbursements, an agreement in principle to pay a sum equal to the Type C fixed costs of additional advice on quantum of damages where such advice is justified under 7.10 of the Protocol.

Where the parties fail to reach an agreement or of the Claimant does not receive a settlement pack response within the relevant time period, the Claimant must send the Defendant the Court Proceedings Pack. The Defendant must pay the Claimant’s stage 1 and 2 costs within ten days. If they do not comply, the Claimant may give written notice that the claim will no longer proc under this Protocol and start proceedings under Part 7 of the CPR.

Stage 3

When the parties cannot agree to the amount of damages at the end of Stage 2, the parties may progress to stage 3. This stage is also applicable to child claimants.

The claim should be made under the Part 8 procedure and will be determined by the court based on the contents of the Court Proceedings Pack. The filing of the claim form will represent the start of the process for the purposes of fixed costs. This means following filing the Court Proceedings pack and claim form at court, Stage 3 costs apply.

The Claimant must file with the Part 8 claim form, the Court proceedings pack, the medical reports, evidence of special damages and disbursements. The court can assess the damages on paper or at a Stage 3 hearing.

Stage 3 Costs

CPR45.18 sets out the rules for stage 3 costs as shown below:

Stage 3 costs, type A fixed costs (the legal representative’s costs) -£250

Stage 3 costs, type B fixed costs (the advocate’s costs of attending the Stage 3 hearing)- £250

Stage 3 costs, type C fixed costs (the costs for the advice on the amount of damages where the Claimant is a child)- £150.

 

How Can ARC Costs Help?

 

ARC Costs are a team of specialist Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers who can assist in the recoverability of costs, including stage 3 costs.

We hold experience in dealing with CPR 45 Fixed Recoverable Costs. We can assist in advising you on the level of costs that are recoverable under CPR 45 RTA Fixed Costs dependant on the case circumstances, and the damages recovered or agreed.

 Should you require assistance prior to the matter being settled and damages being agreed upon, we can advise you on the level of costs that are likely to be recovered under the Fixed Costs regime.

In some cases, fixed costs may be disputed. We can assist in negotiating with the opposing party in order to narrow the issues between the parties prior to commencing detailed assessment proceedings.

Should detailed assessment proceedings commence, we can advise you regarding these, and our Costs Lawyers can represent you at any hearing.

Should you wish to discuss your costs query with us, please contact us on 01204 397302 or info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, you may complete the enquiry form on our website, and a costs expert will contact you to discuss your query.

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