- 22 Feb 2023
- 3 min read
The Damages Claims Portal
On 15 September 2022 it became mandatory for all legally represented Claimants and Defendants to use the Damages Claims Portal (DCP) in accordance with the changes to Practice Direction 51ZB (the Practice Direction).
The mandatory use of the DCP was not widely publicised and has left Claimants and Defendants to get to grips with the system very quickly.
When does it apply?
Prior to submission of a claim, the Claimant’s representative must have given at least 14 days’ notice of their intention to submit on the DCP. The Defendant must have instructed a legal representative prior to commencement on the DCP. The Defendant’s legal representative must have registered with MyHMCTS, informed the Claimant of that registration and given the applicable email address to be used for submission of the claim. When submitting the claim on the DCP, the Claimant must use the email address provided by the Defendant in order for that claim to be correctly submitted to the Defendant, and conform with the notification requirements under the Practice Direction.
In paragraph 1.6(3) the Practice Direction sets out the conditions which must be met in order for the DCP to apply to the claim. In broad terms, the below outlines where the DCP will apply and what the exceptions are;
|DCP Applies||DCP does not apply|
|Where all parties are legally represented and registered on the DCP||Where one or more party is not legally represented or not registered on the DCP|
|Any County Court claim for damages only (any value)||Where the sum claimed is a specified one (discussed below)|
|Claims involving individuals under 18yrs old||A claim being brought by an adult who lacks capacity|
|Where the claim has exited the MOJ portal and is being commenced via CPR Part 7||Claims proceeding under CPR Part 8|
|Where the claim has exited the OIC portal and is being commenced via CPR Part 7||OIC portal claims proceeding under Practice Direction 27B|
|Where a single Claimant brings a claim against one or two Defendants|
Where two Claimants bring a claim against one Defendant
|Where there are more parties|
Specified and unspecified claims
As referred to above, the DCP differentiates between a specified claim and an unspecified one. The DCP will apply to all unspecified claims (where damages are to be assessed), assuming the exceptions within paragraph 1.6(3) do not apply. However, a claim for a specified amount will proceed through the Online Civil Money Claims pilot – this pilot is currently due to run until 30 November 2023 and is not yet mandatory. As is perhaps to be expected, given the existence of a number of different routes running alongside one another, there is some confusion about where claims should be and there are certainly some claims which are for specified sums proceedings within the DCP at the moment.
What stages does the DCP cover?
Currently the DCP covers the Claimant issuing their Claim Form and uploading Particulars of Claim, the Defendant’s acknowledgment of service, Defence and the parties’ directions questionnaires. After these steps have been completed, the case is transferred to a County Court and the court will then provide allocation and directions in the normal way.
It appears to be accepted that there will be changes and extensions to the DCP in the coming months and years, so it is a work in progress. Given the lack of fanfare ahead of the DCP becoming compulsory we may expect that any changes will come in under the radar.
Nomination is Key
It has always been the case that nominating solicitors to accept service of proceedings has been a sensible option – it reduces the stress of a client having proceedings served on them directly and judgment being entered in default due to potential delays between proceedings being received and solicitors being informed/instructed – with the introduction of the DCP, having an early nomination in place is even more important.
When it comes to providing a nomination to a Claimant, it is important to ensure that the name and address of the solicitors is given but, most important, the email address they have registered with the DCP should also be provided.