ACSO calls for investigation into progress of small claims portal

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Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the newly formed Association of Customer Support Organisations (ACSO), has urged MPs on the justice select committee to investigate the small claims portal.

The small claims portal, which is being funded by insurers and overseen by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), is scheduled to go live in April 2020, following passage late last year of the Civil Liability Act and wider whiplash reform.In a letter to the justice select committee, Maxwell Scott argued for a short inquiry to be held to give MPs, the claims sector and the public a chance to understand how the portal is progressing, as details have been scarce.

Maxwell Scott of the ACSO wrote: “Our members tell us they need at least 12 months to get ready for the new system, but they still have no clue as to what it will look like and how it will work. The government has done a Brexit with personal injury claims: set a launch date without a plan that explains how to get there.”

He pointed to the problems already being faced by legal expenses insurers (LEI). “LEI policies being written now cover a 12-month period from now into next year when the insurers have no idea what the new regime looks like. LEI providers should be part of the development process, especially as the MoJ has said that this product could give claimants access to legal advice in the post-reform world.”

Ellie Reeves MP backed the ACSO. She said: “It is disappointing that the Ministry of Justice are reluctant to provide information about the forthcoming claims portal. When the Civil Liability Bill was passing through Parliament, we were given repeated assurances from ministers that using the portal to make a claim would be quick, easy and more efficient than the current system.”

“It is unfortunate that we are yet to see any meaningful information on the portal roll-out and its long-term use. I hope the ministry will use this opportunity to engage with stakeholders and provide us all with a comprehensive update on the portal’s development.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk