UPDATE 30 May 2022: HMCTS has notified stakeholders that the Practice Direction update will NOT now be put in place from 2 June 2022 and that a new date for this amendment will be communicated soon. We will monitor developments and keep you informed.
The 145th update to the Civil Procedure Rules has now been published, further amending the rules regarding the Damages Claims Pilot contained at Practice Direction 51ZB.
The amendments will come into force on 2 June 2022, when the Damages Claims Portal (DCP) will, in effect, become mandatory for legally represented defendants.
The key amendment inserts paragraph 1.9 to the Practice Direction. The DCP will be mandatory, provided the following occurs:
1. The claimant gives the defendant 14 days’ notice of their intention to issue in the DCP;
2. The defendant has instructed solicitors prior to the commencement of proceedings.
If these steps are taken:
1. The defendant’s solicitors must be registered to use the DCP;
2. The defendant’s solicitors must notify the claimant’s solicitors they are instructed; and
3. The claimant must notify the claim using the DCP.
It is our view that the word “instructed”, found at paragraph 1.9(2)(b) means something more than a mere nomination of solicitors, and it will not be sufficient for the claimant to rely on a nomination letter sent prior to 2 June 2022 to serve a defendant firm within the DCP.
Whilst concerns remain as to the operation of the DCP itself, this change in the rules is welcome as mandation is introduced, as it will enable defendants and their lawyers to have prior notice of proceedings, arrange for instructions to be issued, and for useful information (e.g. references, email addresses) to be provided to the claimant at the time the claim is commenced.
If you have any queries about the DCP Pilot, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Head.