Extending mandatory use of the Damages Claims Portal to Defendants

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Extending mandatory use of the Damages Claims Portal to Defendants

Published 14 September 2022

What’s changing?

Claimants will already be familiar with issuing claims via the DCP, as its use for claimants has been mandatory since April 2022.  That mandation will extend to defendants for claims where the relevant notice is given by the claimant on or after 15 September 2022.

The 150th update amends Practice Direction 51ZB to set out that where:

a) the claimant gives the defendant at least 14 days’ notice of their intention to bring a claim using the DCP; and
b) the defendant has instructed a legal representative before the claim is started, the defendant must respond to the claim via the DCP. 

If notice is given in these circumstances, then consequences flow for both parties:

1) the defendant’s legal representative must—

  • register with MyHMCTS and secure access to the DCP before the claim is started;
  • notify the claimant that they are instructed; and
  • provide the claimant with their email address for claim notifications; and

2) the claimant must—

  • provide that email address for claim notifications to the court using the DCP when starting the claim; and
  • notify the claim to the defendant using the procedure set out in section 3 of the Practice Direction.

Which claims does the DCP apply to and what are the exceptions?

The below table summarises which type of claims should be issued in the DCP. 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 

Specified money (i.e. 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 or two defendants, or two claimants against one defendant, whether individuals or company/organisation

Claims involving more parties


Claims for remedy other than damages

Specified vs unspecified

HMCTS are using the terms specified and unspecified to route the claims, consistent with the relevant rules.  Unspecified damages claims (i.e. claims for a sum to be assessed) go to DCP, where use by defendants is now mandatory.  Specified claims (i.e. claims for a specific sum, for example vehicle hire charges or the cost of repair to property) go to the Online Civil Money Claims (OCMC) Pilot, where use is not currently mandated.

We have already seen claims proceeding along the wrong route. Some specified claims are going through DCP; and some claims have been routed to OCMC when they are really for unspecified damages.

We will be providing an update on OCMC and the interaction between the pilots as soon as possible. 

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 Money Claims Centre and follow the current procedure to trial.

Implications for Defendants and Insurers

It is likely that 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 updates when these changes go live.  

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.


Joanna Folan

Joanna Folan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6350

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6232

David Williams

David Williams


+44 (0)113 251 4844

Emma Fuller

Emma Fuller


+44 (0) 163 365 7891

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