Towards the digital court: the Damages Claims Portal (DCP)

Towards the digital court: the Damages Claims Portal (DCP)

Published 29 March 2022

The damages claims portal is to become mandatory for all claimant solicitors dealing with ANY claim for damages in the County Court from 4th April 2022. Mandatory usage for defendant firms is expected to follow shortly.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls, set out his vision for the future of the civil justice system in England and Wales in his recent speech to the Society of Computers and Law.

“Justice is changing fast already, and in England and Wales we can expect a truly integrated online digital justice system to resolve civil, family and tribunals disputes by the mid-2020s at the latest. Analogue systems and paper will be things of the past.1

The DCP is the latest stage in this drive to change profoundly the civil litigation landscape. It has been run in a pilot scheme since May 2021. Uptake has been slower than hoped and its usage is about to be extended.

The 142nd update to the Civil Procedure Rules was published on 28th March 2022 and confirms that from 4th April 2022, claimants’ solicitors bringing claims for a variety of damages claims must use the DCP to issue and serve them. Presently, defendants do not have to accept these claims via the DCP. However, we are expecting mandatory use for defendant firms to follow at some point in the very near future.

Which claims should be in the portal?

The below table summarises which type of claims should be issued in the DCP from 4th April. In summary, apart from the exceptions listed in the table, it covers any County Court claim for damages where the claimant is legally represented, no matter what value. This includes most third party claims for injury or property damage, from small vehicle damage claims up to severe injury.

What is included?

What is excluded?

Any County Court claim for damages where the claimant is legally represented, no matter what value 

Debt claims and Possession claims

Claims involving children

Claims involving protected parties (adults who lack capacity)

Claims exiting MOJ portal and issued as Part 7 claims

Part 8 claims (including RTA and EL/PL portal stage 3 claims)

Claims exiting OIC portal and issued as Part 7 claims

Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal claims proceeding into Practice Direction 27B

One claimant v one defendant, whether individuals or company/organisation

Claims involving more than one claimant or defendant (although these will be added later this year)

 

Claims for remedy other than damages

How does the DCP operate?

The DCP at present only covers the following steps in a litigated case:

  • Claimant’s solicitor issues the claim form online;
  • Claimant can upload particulars of claim to the Portal;
  • Claim is notified (i.e. served) on the defendant’s solicitors through the Portal;
  • Defendant’s acknowledgement of service completed online;
  • Defence uploaded together with the defendant’s Directions Questionnaire (DQ) answers;
  • Claimant provides DQ answers.

Once these steps have taken place, the claim will be transferred to the County Court centre at Salford and follow the current procedure to trial.

Implications for Defendants and Insurers

Practice Direction 51ZB2 governs the use of the DCP. The next update to the CPR is likely to follow within a few weeks and will set out when and how the DCP will become mandatory for defendant’s solicitors. It is likely this Practice Direction will undergo further changes this year as the procedure is extended, so it is important to keep abreast of the developments. We will ensure we send regular communications as and when the updates are provided.  

From a pre-litigation perspective, nominations will be of vital importance. Efforts should be made to try and make these as early as is consistent with good practice, so proceedings are directed through the DCP to your panel lawyer. At the very least, if the claimant’s solicitor requests a nomination from you, it should be provided.

For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts below.

 

1Sir Geoffrey Vos MR - “The Future for Dispute Resolution: Horizon Scanning” - The Society of Computers and Law, Sir Brian Neill Lecture 17 March 2022.  https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/speech-by-the-master-of-the-rolls-the-future-for-dispute-1resolution-horizon-scanning/

2https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part51/practice-direction-51zb-the-damages-claims-pilot

Authors

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6232

Joanna Folan

Joanna Folan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6350

David Williams

David Williams

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4844

Emma Fuller

Emma Fuller

Newport

+44 (0)163 365 7891

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