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The Damages Claims Portal, the Civil Reform Project and their impact on claims

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By David Williams


Published 23 February 2023


2022 saw amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules, mandating the use of the Damages Claims Portal (DCP) by claimants and defendants, and 2023 will see extensions of the DCP and the Online Civil Money Claims system (OCMC) to extend their scope to include the steps toward trial.

HM Courts and Tribunal Service has published its roadmap to extend the DCP and OCMC (Legal Representative v Legal Representative) to include applications for default judgments, the issuing of standard Directions Orders by the courts, applications for a number of standard Orders, the uploading of evidence and documents, the payment of hearing fees and the listing of claims for trial.

Nominations and Judgments

Both specified claims (claims for specific sums, for example credit hire claims) and damages claims (which require the assessment of damages by the courts, for example claims including a personal injury element) are commenced through the same website. As a consequence, we have come across a number of specified damages claims which have been incorrectly issued as damages claims and damages claims which have incorrectly been issued as specified damages.

The extensions of the DCP and OCMC will be implemented with little notice, as a consequence of which it may be possible for default judgments to be entered on claims which have already been commenced through the DCP and OCMC.

As the scope of the DCP and OCMC are extended, enabling claimants to seek default judgment on claims served through the DCP and OCMC, which will include claims for specified sums which, on entering judgment, may be enforced, the importance of ensuing that the legal representatives are nominated to accept service of proceedings through the electronic portals becomes more important.

The DCP does not allow multiple offices of a firm to be listed separately and instead allows one nomination for each legal entity of a firm of solicitors, in addition to which file handlers can be registered for only one firm. Whilst the DCP and OCMC will be extended to include Notice Change functionality, this will not be available for some time. As a consequence, it is not, at present, possible to transfer a claim within the DCP from one firm to another, whether due to incorrect service by the claimant’s solicitors, or a conflict of interest requiring a claim to be handled by a different firm.

Impact on insurers

When nominating solicitors to accept service, we recommend spelling out the correct legal entity and address listed on the DCP, together with the firm’s e-mail address for use on the DCP, in order to minimise the risk of claimants’ representatives notifying proceedings to a wrong firm.

Where a claimant’s representative asks for details of the nominated representative of the defendant, on whom proceedings should be served, it being possible for the request to be contained within correspondence, for example the letter of claim, it is important for the defendant or its insurer to nominate panel solicitors as soon as possible and within 14 days of the request, in order to minimise the risk of default judgment.