SMALL CLAIMS LIMIT INCREASE: KEY DATES FOR PORTALLING & ISSUING
On 17 November 2016 the Ministry of Justice published its consultation paper – Reforming the Soft Tissue Injury (Whiplash) Claims Process which can be accessed and responded to here and I wrote about the personal injury small claims limit proposal in detail in my post PERSONAL INJURY SMALL CLAIMS LIMIT: CONSULTATION IN DETAIL.
As any increase in the small claims limit will be dealt with by amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules, this change could be in as soon as April 2017.
On all previous occasions the key date has been when proceedings are issued.
Thus two passengers are injured in the same accident and both have claims worth £4,000.00. One claim is issued in March 2017 and thus is cost bearing and the other is issued in April 2017 and is not cost bearing.
The non-personal injury small claims limit was increased from £5,000.00 to £10,000.00 in April 2013 and that was how it was implemented.
Likewise under section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 the relevant date is when proceedings were issued and not the date of the cause of action. Any claim issued on or after 13 April 2015, whenever the accident occurred, is caught by the fundamental dishonesty provisions.
“Proceedings” under that Act means issued at court and so being in the portal process does not count.
It is likely to be the same with a small claims so that court proceedings must be issued by the end of March 2017 to avoid a sub £5,000.00 claim being allocated to the small claims track.
There is no precedent as the small claims limit for personal injury matters has not risen since 1991, before the portals existed.
It is strongly arguable that reaching Portal Stage 3 means proceedings have been issued, as indeed they have with a court fee paid.
Unfortunately the conduct of the Ministry of Justice is currently not always logical or consistent with the rule of law, and so it cannot be assumed that the rule change will provide that anything in Stage 3 is issued for the purposes of the small claims limit.
Given the 21 days plus three months’ time for a defendant to consider a claim you should aim to have everything in the portal by 30 November 2016 and ensure that you are ready to issue proceedings once the time limit is up.
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