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Portal expansion will lead to ‘enormous number of negligence claims’

Part 36 offers from claimants and defendants also set to rise

21 May 2013

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Geoff Owen, a consultant at Greenwoods, which became part of Parabis yesterday, has warned of "an enormous number of claims against solicitors" in three to five years' time, resulting from the RTA portal.

Speaking at SJ Live at the Emirates Stadium this morning, Owen said he was concerned the portal put "so much pressure on lawyers" to make settlements, and the use of new-style CFAs and DBAs would contribute to negligence claims.

Owen said the new rules on Part 36 offers led him to receive, at 3.56pm on Friday and for the first time in his career, a Part 36 offer from a claimant.

He said that under the new rules, defendants would have to pay an additional £75,000 if they failed to beat the offer, which was worth over £1m.

"I suspect we will see more Part 36 offers from claimants, though they may come late in the day," Owen said.

He said claimants would also have to accept sensible Part 36 offers from defendant solicitors.

Owen said he had noticed that the number of TV adverts by personal injury firms had declined since 1 April this year and most did not use the phrase 'no win, no fee'.

A delegate defended the use of 'no win, no fee', but Owen said any firm using the phrase would have to make it clear that, although they did not have to pay a fee, claimants would lose part of their damages.

He predicted that once the bar had been established at a certain level for personal injury costs in more complex cases, there would be the introduction of a further fixed fee regime.

"The way fixed fees are going generally, it is likely they will creep up the ladder."

However Owen added that he had heard that the RTA portal was "not even nearly ready" to take on employer's and public liability cases at the anticipated date of 31 July this year.

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