Damages Claims Portal Compulsory for Defendant Solicitors from 15 September 2022
The Damages Claims Portal (DCP) pilot scheme began in May 2021 and will run until 30 April 2024. It forms part of a wider reform programme being implemented by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and an increasingly digitalised approach to litigation to improve efficiency and reduce backlogs and costs.
The purpose of the DCP pilot scheme is to test an online claims process for specified County Court damages claims. The scheme is being progressed incrementally but will ultimately provide an end to end service for damages claims – from pre- action stage through to enforcement. The portal process currently ends at directions questionnaire stage and, by the end of 2022, the portal is intended to reach directions stage. Once a claim reaches the end of the current portal process, it falls out of the pilot and continues in the usual way.
Claims can be issued on the online portal 24 hours a day, seven days a week . However, rules of service still apply – defences must be filed by 4pm on the last available day as provided for in the Civil Procedure Rules.
The DCP currently lacks an API to link it directly into law firms’ case management systems but defendant firms are lobbying for the introduction of an API as soon as possible.
Claims falling within the pilot
Since 4 April 2022, the DCP has been compulsory for the issue and service of all County Court damages claims (which include personal injury, clinical negligence, professional negligence, breach of contract and consumer claims) where both parties are legally represented, subject to listed exceptions.
The DCP does not have a monetary upper limit.
The service can be used for certain multi-party claims – currently, claims by one claimant against two defendants or two claimants against one defendant.
The online process does not apply to the following claims:
- Small Claims Track claims (in personal injury cases, a claim is allocated to the small claims track if the value of the whole claim is less than £5000 and the value of any personal injury damages is less than £1000)
- claims where the defendant is based in Wales
- claims relating to payment protection insurance
- claims that fall within the money claim online scheme
- claims which qualify for the fee remission scheme
- claims for service outside England and Wales
- Part 8 claims
- claims by/against a protected party (apart from children under 18 represented by a litigation friend)
- claims against the Crown
- claims under the Consumer Credit Act 1974
The latest stage
Since April 2022, Defendant law firms have been able to elect whether to register with MyHMCTS and use to the DCP or not. That is changing and Defendant solicitors will shortly be compelled to use the DCP. Responses to claims issued on the DCP on or after 15 September 2022 will be required via the DCP. Any paper responses filed at the CCMCC will be returned.
In practical terms, this means that defendant solicitors will need to be nominated in advance of proceedings being issued on the DCP. Geldards LLP is an early adopter of the DCP process and has been training staff on the new process and providing feedback. We are registered with MyHMCTS and able to respond to proceedings via the DCP.