Commenting on the decision by ministers to delay the implementation of the litigant-in-person (LiP) portal to May, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) said:
“Today’s decision was inevitable, but gives very little breathing space when so much remains to be done.
“The need for further delay also raises a broader point. It is abundantly clear that trying to deliver this project in relative isolation from experienced industry practitioners is not working. Now that we face more delay, ministers must rethink the route to market for the whiplash reform programme and get the claims sector much more involved.
“The Covid crisis has shown our capacity to come together to keep the wheels of justice turning. It’s time for us to step up to the plate again and work with the MoJ and MIB to bring these reforms to fruition.
“The principles of the reforms are accepted as the legislation isn’t going to change. But it’s the industry itself that’s best placed to ensure implementation happens as a coherent package which delivers better outcomes for consumers. By working in a spirit of compromise, there’s every chance we can deliver solutions that work for all stakeholders in the claims process.
“Many ACSO members have already re-modelled their businesses in readiness for the post-reform world, including embracing technology to reflect public appetite for digital claims management. They have every incentive to ensure the reforms are effectively implemented and would welcome the opportunity to provide the expertise required.
“The government must set out a clear timetable for restoring alternative dispute resolution to its plans and ensure rehabilitation is a central part of the process. It also needs to tidy up other issues such as helping LiPs value non-tariff injuries and undertaking thorough and independent consumer testing.
“We must also see recognition that credit hire and repair are integral parts of the claims process for many consumers. Continuing to look at all these interlinked issues in isolation will create a patchwork of avoidable problems.
“There’s no going back, but as things stand we’re not really going forward either, so let us help the government get the portal and the whole reform programme right.”