Portal data for December showing new claims volumes falling to record low levels demonstrates significant disruption in the face of reform
The release by Claims Portal of its data for December allows not only the usual monthly review but also a look at the totality of the data for the calendar year of 2017.
There were record low volumes of new claims in December as the annual pattern of lower volumes throughout the year was topped off by the effects of a shorter working month.
In the case of all 4 of the portals, volumes were the lowest since those portals had been in their infancy and were picking up speed and specifically acquiring new cases.
The extent of the month on month decreases comparing December to November was significant though it needs to be recognised that to a significant extent they were caused by the shorter working month. RTA fell 19.8%, PL by 29.7%, EL by 33.1% and EL disease by 29.4%.
The calendar year statistics when comparing 2017 to 2016 show falls of 12.4% for RTA, 7.5% for PL, 6.9% for EL and 19.4% in the case of EL disease.
Longer term trends point in opposite directions however. The rate of decline of new claims volumes is increasing in the case of RTA claims, but is decreasing for all types of casualty claims.
While publication of the Civil Liability Bill by the MoJ now headed by David Gauke is awaited, the government's published intentions to reform this sector continue to have an ongoing effect in anticipation of those changes coming into force. We await the reforms being brought forward when parliamentary time permits to avoid current trends being reversed.
New RTA claims in December
There were 49,527 new claims entering the RTA portal in December, that's a reduction of as much as 19.8% from the level of 61,786 seen in November.
This is the lowest monthly number of new RTA claims for over 7 years: in fact it was back in August 2010 that we last saw both a lower month, as well as a number less than 50,000. At that time the portal data was only 4 months old.
As we have seen as a trend throughout 2017, this was the lowest number of new claims for that particular month of the year since the RTA portal opened.
The level was lower than in December 2016 by 13.3%, than in December 2015 by 14.5%, and lower than in December 2014 by 22.5%.
All that said, the low level seen in December 2017 should not be seen as entirely surprising, as it is a combination of two factors: firstly the fact that generally December sees the lowest level of new claims throughout the year (only once in a full year of data has this not been the case), coupled with the existing lower level of new claims already seen throughout 2017.
The monthly decrease between November and December seen this time of 19.8% is by no means unprecedented. We saw a similar drop of 18.1% in 2016. And while over the preceding 3 years of 2013-2015 there were smaller falls within a range of 10-16%, in the 3 years prior to that (2010-2012) the decreases were in the range of 19-23%.
The month on month decreases as between November and December have in fact been as follows:
- 2010: 20.7%
- 2011: 19.3%
- 2012: 22.8%
- 2013: 15.5%
- 2014: 10.2%
- 2015: 14.5%
- 2016: 18.1%
- 2017: 19.8%
New RTA claims in December – time weighted
Excluding Bank Holidays, there were 19 working days in December, that's a 13.6% reduction in working time from the 22 working days in November.
But in reality claimant operations are likely to have had more time away from their workstations than only the Bank Holidays. Allowing an extra day to reduce the working month to one of 18 working days would create a reduction of working time of 18.2%, close to the actual reduction seen of 19.8%.
But allowing for only Bank Holidays themselves the graph is set out above. The data shows an average of just over 2,500 new RTA CNFs per working day. This is the lowest level since May 2013.
New RTA claims over the calendar year
The completion of what is essentially month 12 data allows us to look additionally at calendar year data and to compare 2017 with previous years.
During 2017 there were 714,251 new RTA claims presented to the portal. This is a decrease of around 100,000 or 12.4% from the level of 815,011 seen in 2016.
The current level is the lowest full year since the RTA portal opened and around 60,000 lower than in its first year of operation.
New RTA claims over the longer term
Looking at longer term trends by reference to 12 month cumulative data gives the result that in the 12 months up to December 2017 there were 714,251 new claims, that's a 1.1% reduction over the month from November's data which showed 721,864 in the preceding 12 months.
The monthly fall of 1.1% was precisely in line with the average for 2017 which therefore remains at 1.1% per month for the year.
The rate of decrease has grown. In the 12 months from December 2015 to December 2016 the fall was 6.7%, while over the following 12 months it has been 12.4%.
The previous low point of 771,709 was reached in April 2014 once the effects of the pre-LASPO peak had ended. The current level is 7.5% lower than that.
There have now been falls on this measurement for 26 of the last 28 months.
Comparison with annual CRU data
The DWP annual data to be published in the spring will show new claims notified to the CRU over the period till the end of March. Over the same period in 2016/17 the portal data showed new notified RTA claims at a level of 797,067.
Now 9 months into 2017/18, the current level now stands at 520,010. If we continue at the same average rate for the remaining 3 months then the total would be 693,347. That level would be marginally more than a 100,000 reduction from the previous year.
Last month, we were forecasting an annual total for 2017/18 of around 707,000. That number has fallen this month because of the impact of December's level. Our anticipation is that the actual end point will edge upwards back towards 700,000 over the remaining 3 months.
At the same point after 9 months of 2016/17, the level stood at 601,611. The current level of 520,010 shows a 13.6% reduction.
New casualty claims in December
The coloured bars on the graph above show that for the month of December 2017 there were large falls in the intake of new claims across each of the casualty portals.
The extent of the decreases at between 29-34% were rather more than the effect of the shorter working month measured at 13.6% taking into account Bank Holidays or indeed 18.2% allowing for an extra day away from the workstations.
There was consistency between the casualty portals on a number of criteria:
- The new claims levels last month were the lowest since each portal was in its early days
- When looking back over the previous 3 years for the month of December there have been falls of increasing extents showing progressively decreasing intake year on year
- The extent of the drop in volumes as between November and December has widened each year since the portals opened
New PL claims
There were 3,652 new PL claims notified to the portal in December, that's a reduction of as much as 29.7% from November's level. This is the lowest monthly number of new claims since December 2013 when the casualty portals were 5 months old.
The level is lower than in previous Decembers by increasing amounts as we go further back in time: it is lower than in December 2016 by 6.2%, than in December 2015 by 20.6% and lower than in December 2014 by 30.7%.
December has always seen the lowest monthly total in the year since the PL portal was new, but in fact we are seeing an increasing gap as the years pass when measured as between November and December.
The month on month decreases as between November and December have been as follows:
- 2013: 12.8%
- 2014: 16.1%
- 2015: 21.8%
- 2016: 26.5%
- 2017: 29.7%
New EL claims
2,783 new EL claims entered the portal in December, a reduction of 33.1% from November. As with PL, it was the lowest monthly number since December 2013 when the casualty portals were 5 months old.
Also as with PL, the current level is lower than in previous Decembers by increasing amounts the further back in time we look. It was 12.4% lower than in December 2016, 19.4% less than in December 2015 and 25.3% lower than in December 2014.
Again as with PL, the drop as between November and December is increasing as the years progress as shown here:
- 2013: 11.6%
- 2014: 14.3%
- 2015: 21.6%
- 2016: 25.9%
- 2017: 33.1%
New EL disease claims
There were 492 new claims into the EL disease portal in December, a reduction of 29.4% from November. In more extreme terms than with PL and EL, this is the lowest monthly total since September 2013 when the casualty portals were only 2 months old.
December 2017 was 20.0% lower than December 2016, 64.8% lower than December 2015 and 62.5% less than in December 2014.
As with both PL and EL, the drop as between November and December is increasing as the years progress as shown here:
- 2013: 11.0%
- 2014: 13.6%
- 2015: 14.1%
- 2016: 28.6%
- 2017: 29.4%
New casualty claims over the calendar year
The calendar year 2017 saw the levels of new casualty claims falling in all 3 of the portals to the lowest number for a full year within the 4 years since they opened. The PL path is one of year on year decreases, while the EL and EL disease pattern shows an increase between year 1 and year 2 and then annual decreases since.
As to the extent of the drop between 2016 and 2017, this was similar as between PL and EL with PL standing at 7.5% and EL at 6.9%, while the annual EL disease fall was 19.4%.
New casualty claims over the longer term
The overarching casualty picture is of decline: over the last two and a half years in the case of PL, and the last two years in the case of EL and EL disease. The rate of decline though has slowed from year to year.
Over the 12 months to December 2017 there were 59,110 new PL claims, a reduction over the month of 0.4% from last month's level of 59,352. The average monthly decrease during 2017 now stands at 0.7%.
There have now been falls over 28 of the last 30 months.
The rate of decrease has though slowed: from 12.3% between December 2015 to December 2016, to 7.5% from December 2016 to now.
There were 46,320 new EL claims over the 12 months through to December 2017, a fall of 0.8% over the level of 46,714 seen the previous month. The average monthly decline during 2017 was 0.6%.
There have now been falls in 19 of the past 25 months.
The rate of decrease has slowed too in the case of EL though in a less pronounced way, from 8.0% between December 2015 and 12 months later, to 6.9% over the next 12 months through to December 2017.
EL disease claims
There were 9,174 new EL disease claims over the 12 months up to December, which represents a 1.3% decrease over the position when assessed the month prior. This is close to the average monthly fall during 2017 of 1.4%.
This was the 24th consecutive monthly fall.
As with PL and EL, the rate of decline has slowed, from 50.7% in the 12 months to December 2016 to 19.4% in the last 12 months.
The month of December saw declining retention rates across all 4 portals. The tabulation of these results includes cases proceeding to stage 3 as retained within the portal process.
Longer term retention rates are shown on this further graph. RTA remains at marginally above 50% in fact at 51%, EL is close to 30% at 27%, PL at 20% and EL disease at 8%.
RTA claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
In December 5,170 claims went through to stage 3, that's a 19.8% reduction on the month. That's well more than the 13.6% accounted for by Bank Holidays and close to the 18.2% which would be arrived at by an additional non-working day. In truth it is difficult in the shortened month of December to make meaningful assessments of any change.
PSLA quantum levels
Average general damages rose by £18 or 0.6% over the month to £2,800. That's the 3rd highest month to date. It may be the start of the impact of the 4.8% average increases advised in the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines.
Casualty claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
As with RTA, in the shortened month of December it is more difficult to reach hard and fast conclusions this month.
In the case of PL, the number fell 18.0% to 73, though November had been the highest to date.
With EL, the number fell 13.6% to 70, though again from a comparatively high level.
As to EL disease, the number on the usual small sample rose from 3 to 4.
PSLA quantum levels
November had seen the highest levels of PSLA to date with PL and EL with 5.1% and 6.3% increases respectively. Both saw decreases from that position this month.
PL fell 0.9% to £4,255 while EL decreased by 1.3% to £4,323. EL disease rose on a small sample by 2.3% to £3,988.
Comparative use of stages 2 and 3
The trend towards increasing use of stage 3 and its additional costs recovery continued this month. Both RTA and PL rose to their highest proportionate use of stage 3 to date. RTA now stands at 32% and so at just less than 1 in 3 cases, while PL has increased to 14%. EL increased to 13%.
This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.