CPR Update – Changes to Court Track Allocation for Road Traffic Accident and Personal Injury Claims
In my article, Whiplash Claim Reforms – are you ready?, I outlined the changes that were due to be made to the Civil Procedure Rules in respect of the allocation of claims to the small claims and fast tracks. On 31 May 2021 these amendments came into effect for accidents occurring on or after that date with one key difference.
Under the previous rules, a claim was allocated to the small claims track on the basis that the value of the claim was £10,000 or less and did not include a claim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) of more than £1,000. This applied to all cases and there was no distinction drawn between injuries arising out of road traffic accidents and any other injuries. With the amendments that have now come into force a claim will be allocated to the small claims track if:
- The overall claim value is not more than £10,000
- If personal injury is claimed
- The value of the claim for PSLA is not more than £5,000 where the claim arises out of a road traffic accident and the exemptions within CPR r26.6A do not apply (discussed below)
- The value of the claim for PSLA is not more than £1,000 where the exemptions in CPR r26.6A apply, or the claim for personal injury does not arise from a road traffic accident
Below are the exemptions provided for in CPR r26.6A which rebut the presumption that a claim would be allocated to the small claims track if the claim arises out a road traffic accident and the value of PSLA is less than £5,000. Where the claimant is:
- A child
- A protected party
- A ‘vulnerable road user’
- Using a motorcycle
- A pillion passenger or a passenger in a sidecar on a motorcycle
- Using a wheelchair, a powered wheelchair or mobility scooter
- Using a bicycle or pedal cycle
- Riding a horse
- A pedestrian
As you can see from the information above, if any of exemptions apply, the position on allocation remains as it was prior to the implementation of the new rules. However, the majority of claims arising out of road traffic accidents will not fall within the exemptions and will be impacted. As I highlighted in my previous article, the small claims track is subject to a very restrictive fixed costs regime which is exceptionally likely to lead to solicitors not taking on cases where the claim is likely to be allocated to the small claims track. It is therefore likely that the changes will mean that claimants will bring claims themselves as litigants in person. It may also be the case that, if solicitors are involved in the case, there are attempts to get the claim allocated to the fast track by adding in additional claims for losses which bring the overall claim value to over the £10,000 limit.
It will be interesting to see how these changes develop and to see what tactics are implemented as a result of these amendments.
Above I mention that there is one key difference between what had been anticipated and what has been changed. Originally it was suggested that personal injury claims arising out of public (PL) or employer’s liability (EL) would be treated differently to road traffic accident or other personal injury claims. The suggestion was that a claim arising out of PL or EL would need to be less than £10,000 overall and include a claim of less than £2,000 for PSLA for it to be allocated to the small claims track. However, the changes do not draw this distinction yet and an EL or PL claim is treated the same way as it would have been prior to the changes coming into being.
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