Latest claims data from the portal returns to pattern of marginally reducing volumes as Civil Liability Bill changes progress into the Commons
The June portal data is now available and allows an up to date of latest trends which continue to appear to be affected by the incoming Civil Liability Bill and accompanying Small Claims Track changes where the Bill has entered the House of Commons with its Second Reading due to take place on 4 September.
We return to a picture of generally reducing new claims volumes in June, with RTA down 7.4% and EL down 1.7%, though with PL showing a slight increase at 0.4%.
Longer term trends assessed over the preceding 12 months are all negative this month, RTA is reduced by 0.7%, while both PL and EL are down by 0.3%.
We are now halfway through 2018 and it is reasonable to compare this year with the calendar year of 2017. RTA is currently lower by 1.7% and PL by 1.0%, while EL is higher by 2.4%.
It is rather early to predict a total for the accounting year of 2018/19 only 3 months in, but if the current RTA numbers continue, we will end up around 2.7% below 2017/18. While a reduction, it is much smaller than the 12.0% decrease seen between the two previous years.
We saw a substantially increased PSLA figure last month for RTA claims which was therefore at record levels. Predictably RTA PSLA levels return to a more normal level in June, but still at the 3rd highest month to date, and around 1.7% above the level when the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines started to impact.
New RTA claims in June
In June there were 55,185 new claims into the RTA portal, a fall of 7.4% from the 59,611 seen in May. The current level is within 300 of the incoming number which was reported for April, so June has returned to that type of level.
After May's exception we return this month to the previous pattern of seeing lowest volumes for that particular month of the year since the portal was new. Compared to recent years this June's figure is 8.4% less than June 2017, 21.1% lower than June 2016 and 21.6% below the June 2015 number.
Adding June to the average monthly number of new RTA claims for the current calendar year reduces the figure to 58,484. This is 1.7% less than the monthly average for 2017 which concluded at 59,521.
Or if we compare the first 6 months of 2018 with the same part of 2017 then a greater reduction is shown as a result of the reduction in volumes which was ongoing during last year. The monthly average for the first half of 2017 was 61,054, and so as we now stand at 58,484, that's a reduction of 4.2%.
New RTA claims in June – time weighted
At 21, there was the same number of working days in June as there had been in May. So the fall demonstrated on the graph above is of precisely the same extent as on the first graph. This equates to 2,628 new claims per working day.
This is now the 16th consecutive month where the number of new RTA claims per working day has been under 3,000.
A change however is that while the first 5 months of 2018 had shown levels higher than in the second half of 2017, this month's number has ended that trend and instead is comparable to the latter half of last year.
New RTA claims over the longer term
Looking at the data on a rolling 12 month cumulative basis in order to see longer term trends, there was a decrease in June of 0.7% from 702,643 to 697,554. This was the 30th monthly fall in the last 34 months. The pattern of increases over the previous 2 months which were potentially signs of stabilising numbers of new claims has come to an end.
Over 2018 to date, on this measurement the average monthly fall has increased over the month from 0.3% to 0.4%, but still some way short of the average for 2017 of 1.1%.
The data still shows that the rate of decline has slowed, from 10.8% between June 2016 and June 2017, to 8.3% over the last 12 months.
Department for Transport data
The first graph above shows in a black line the increase in vehicle miles travelled over the last 4 years, and the fall over the most recent quarter from 82.1 to 81.1 bn miles is likely to be a reduction of short term relevance only. The increasing pattern of miles travelled does not seem to have fed through to a corresponding increase in claims submitted, at least over the last 3 years.
The same graph also shows in a red line the number of road accidents causing personal injury which continues to be relatively stable. As with the number of vehicles travelled, the number of injury-related accidents does not seem to directly impact on the number of new claims, which instead are more likely to be linked to ongoing reform in this sector.
Comparison with annual CRU and portal data
With the inclusion of June's data we now have figures for 3 months of the accounting year up to 31 March 2019. Based on those 3 months, an annual total of 681,012 would be reached.
The portal data for 2017/18 showed an annual total of 700,008, which constituted a 12.0% drop over 2016/17. The figures after 3 months point towards the position where a smaller fall of 2.7% might happen in 2018/19.
Also in 2017/18 there were 650,019 claims for RTA injuries reported to CRU. The currently projected portal number is 4.8% higher.
New casualty claims in June
June saw 4,791 new PL claims, a small increase of 0.4% from May's level. But this was still the lowest ever number of new PL claims for this month of the year since the portal opened. This number is 3.9% below the corresponding level in June 2017; it was 15.1% less than June 2016's level and 25.2% lower than in June 2015.
The monthly average of new PL claims for 2018 to date now stands at 4,867, which is 1.0% less than the monthly average of 4,917 in 2017. If we compare the first 6 months of each year then in 2017 the monthly average was the precise figure of 5,000, so this year to date we are currently 2.7% below that level.
In June there were 3,803 new EL claims, a reduction of 1.7% from the previous month, ad again the lowest number for the month of June since the portal opened. It was lower than in June 2017 by 4.3%, less than in June 2016 by 9.3% and lower than in June 2015 by 19.4%.
The monthly EL average for 2018 is now 3,953. This is 2.4% higher than the 12 month average for the year of 2017, but 1.4% less than the first 6 months of that same year.
EL disease claims
There were 527 new EL disease claims last month, an increase of 6.5% over May, but again the lowest for the month of June since the portal opened. Comparing to the past 3 years, the current level is lower than in June 2017 by 41.5%, less than in June 2016 by 47.3%, and below the June 2015 number by 73.3%.
The average for the calendar year 2018 is now 605 per month. Comparing to the annual average for 2017 of 756 we are currently 20.0% lower, while if we contrast with the first 6 months of last year at 840 then the present number is 28.0% less.
New casualty claims over the longer term
Over the preceding 12 months up to and including June the total number of PL claims was 58,204, which represents a drop of 0.3% from the corresponding 58,399 seen at the end of the previous month.
Over the last 2 months we have seen decreases, but the picture over the past 9 months has remained a mixed one, with 4 monthly increases and 5 monthly increases, albeit each of the last 2 months has been negative. The more recent longer term trend has though been negative, with reductions in 31 of the last 36 months.
The average monthly decrease this year remains at 0.2%, less than the 2017 monthly average of 0.7%.
The rate of decline has slowed: from 11.6% as between June 2016 and June 2017, to 4.3% over the last 12 months.
The comparative figure for EL claims over the 12 month period to the end of June was 45,913, also a fall of 0.3% from the level of 46,084 seen at the end of the previous month.
Again, this is the second consecutive month to show a decrease, but as with PL the picture over the last 9 months has been more mixed than previously, with 3 monthly increases alongside 6 decreases. Also as with PL, the recent longer term trend has been negative, over 23 of the last 31 months in fact.
The average monthly decrease in 2018 so far is 0.1%, the rate of fall being less than the average for 2017 of 0.6%.
Between June 2016 and June 2017 the reduction was 6.7%, while over the last 12 months the decline had slowed to 5.1%.
EL disease claims
With EL disease claims, over the last 12 months to the end of June, there have been 7,732 new claims, a reduction of 4.6% from the level of 8,106 seen at the end of the previous month.
This is the 30th consecutive month to show a fall, and the rate of decline continues to be much greater than with PL and EL.
Over 2018 to date the average monthly fall is 2.5%, compared to 1.4% last year so the rate of decline has speeded up more recently.
Looking back a little further though the position points the other way, with a 40.9% fall between June 2016 and June 2017 reduced to 21.8% over the last 12 months.
The month of June showed improved retention rates for PL and for EL disease, but reductions for RTA and for EL.
Longer term trends measured over the preceding 12 months show RTA, PL and EL unchanged from last month: RTA at 53%, EL at 28% and PL at 21%.
EL disease falls 1% to 5%.
RTA claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
There were 5,926 court packs prepared in RTA claims in June, prior to use of stage 3 of the process. This is a fall of 4.7% from the level of 6,217 seen in May.
There continues to be no discernible increase in the use of stage 3 over a period which now approaches 2 years, unlike the increasing use of stage 3 up to that point. The factors which promote use of stage 3 such as the additional costs payable continue in operation but do not increase further in significance from their current level.
Last month we saw a substantial increase in PSLA levels, as the published figure increased no less than 9.1% to £3,069. We suggested in reporting that increase at the time that the figure of £3,069 was likely to be exaggerated and that future months would show a reduction, and indeed that is what we now see.
This month the average PSLA figure is £2,830, which represents a drop of £240 or 7.8% over the month. It is though the 3rd highest figure to date and probably represents a fairer assessment of the slowly (rather than suddenly) increasing trend.
The 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines is likely to have impacted from last November onwards, and the current level is 1.7% above that. The extent of the JCG rise was 4.8% so its full impact is still to be felt and a gradual upwards trend is likely to continue from where the data stands at present.
Casualty claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
The casualty portals taken together had their highest use of stage 3 to date last month as the bar on the far right of the graph above shows. In reality this was due to its use in the case of EL claims.
In the case of PL, there were 78 court packs, a rise of 6.8% over the month.
With EL, there were 104 packs, the highest number to date and an increase of 62.5% over the month.
There were 3 EL disease cases where a court pack was prepared.
Despite the position mentioned below with EL, it remains difficult to identify a specific impact from the 14th edition of the JSG in the case of the casualty portals with their smaller sample size.
In the case of PL, the average PSLA agreement was at £3,962, a reduction of 5.3% over the month.
With EL, the level rose 7.0% to £4,360, the 2nd highest to date.
As to EL disease, this fell 6.8% to £3,561, the lowest level for 10 months.
Comparative use of stages 2 and 3
As to RTA, the trend seen above of stabilising use of stage 3 transfers into the graph above. Around 3 in 10 RTA cases which conclude within the portal process do so at stage 3 and that has been the position now for over a year.
In the case of PL and EL, there is more variation on smaller sample size, but of each type of claim currently around 13% of those claims which conclude within the portal do so at stage 3.
Claims still in the portal
As part of the Civil Liability Bill and Small Claims Track changes, a new process is to be designed for claims handling including by litigants in person. The MoJ have recently confirmed there will be more time, up to April 2020, for the set up and testing of those processes to happen, which will inevitably involve changes to the current portal.
It is worth noting that as the current processes work, the data points now to around 1.3m claims having entered the portal but not apparently having left it. The number has increased incrementally to that level and steps which have been implemented by Claims Portal to date seeking to clean up that part of the data has not appeared to impact on the continued rise.
Some greater control over claims within the portal and the time that claimant representatives take to advance them would seem to be called for, and this may be more important still when litigants in person are running their own claims. An opportunity may present itself during the current development processes.
For more information please contact Simon Denyer, Strategic Legal Development Consultant DD 0161 604 1551 Simon.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.