Damages Claims Portal (DCP) Pilot Scheme update 6
18 July – a further update has been issued on the Pilot scheme. The original article continues below the first three paragraphs.
In our most recent DCP update of 11 July 2022 we informed you of how HMCTS were working toward mandating the defendant process within the DCP by 1 August 2022, despite continued significant ongoing technical issues being experienced.
In an update received from HMCTS this morning they say they are continuing to work on getting the system up and running and are now working towards mandating the defendant process by end of August 2022. As before, this date is not set in stone and with continued significant technical issues being experienced there is a real potential for this date to shift yet again.
We are continuing to work with HMCTS in the hope they are able to get the system fully operational shortly and will continue to keep you updated as further developments and updates are received.
Mandating defendant journey in the DCP expected to be announced for 1 August roll-out
You will recall from our last update that HMCTS made the decision at the end of May to postpone plans to go live with mandating the defendant process within the DCP on 2 June 2022 due to significant and ongoing technical issues experienced with the operation of the DCP platform.
Essentially at that time there was a total failure of the DCP platform, with cases served within the DCP not able to be allocated to file handlers, and all claims being pushed manually by HMCTS out of the DCP and into the heritage system. This caused significant headaches and additional work for all involved, and left defendants open to the risk of default judgments (if cases were not pushed out of the system in time).
When will the defendant journey be mandatory?
HMCTS have run several system updates and for the majority the significant technical issues with the platform which were being experienced in June have been rectified. HMCTS have recently announced that they are aiming to go live with mandating the defendant journey from 1 August 2022. This date is currently with senior judiciary for sign-off before an update is requested to the Court Rules.
HMCTS have stated the reasons to push ahead with mandating the defendant process are that they feel the pilot has been operational for long enough, that users have had sufficient notice to become acquainted with it and that if it is not mandated they will not see the level of engagement with the system that they would like. This is despite the significant and ongoing technical issues experienced by system users, including Keoghs, who have been engaging with the system for some considerable time. Many areas of the system remain in development and it continues to feel that mandating of the system is being rushed.
We are expecting a formal announcement from HMCTS of the new go-live date shortly.
Should claims still be issued in the DCP where they meet the criteria in the meantime?
Yes – claims should still be issued in the DCP where they meet the criteria and at Keoghs we will ensure that we continue to do so in those cases where we act for the claimant – such as in recoveries claims.
Are there any other changes to what can be issued in the DCP?
We understand that there is no requirement to issue recovery claims for specified sums covered by Practice Direction 7E within the DCP. Those early adopters of the DCP (including Keoghs) have the ability to issue these claims within the DCP, but there is no requirement to do so under the rules. Those who did not sign up to the DCP at an early stage will not have the ability to issue these claims within the DCP in any event. This particular claims journey (fronted via the DCP and which re-directs users to the OCMC) is not fully operational and requires further development. Cases currently issued in the system appear in a continual state of ‘pending’ – we are awaiting update from HMCTS on a timeline for improvement of this aspect of the service.
Are HMCTS working on any other changes/enhancements?
Service of claims
HMCTS are working to try to mandate a centralised email address for the service of claims. Currently a claimant solicitor can serve a claim via the DCP against any email address held by a firm, regardless of the email address provided. In order to prevent served claims being missed at Keoghs, we have a team who are checking the service and allocation of all claims on a daily basis – using the main firm case list within the DCP. There was hope that HMCTS would send an email notification to the super-user group for each firm with details of cases served, however they have confirmed that this system enhancement is not possible.
It should be noted that we are already seeing a volume of claims served in the DCP without prior consent of the defendant solicitor and using incorrect email addresses for service as well as quoting incorrect references. The current practice directions do not provide any sanctions for failure to follow the Rules and there is no intention to change these. We are concerned that failure to amend the Rules in this respect will lead to misuse of the system.
Allocation of cases
At this present time we are still experiencing significant technical issues working within the DCP at Keoghs, most notably we are unable to allocate cases served in the DCP, therefore HMCTS continue to manually push cases served against us out of the DCP and into the heritage system. We understand that not all organisations are experiencing this problem. The issue has been investigated by HMCTS who are unable to understand why this is happening or provide a timeline for resolution.
Information provided by the system for allocation
We are also hoping for further enhancements which will provide more details of a claim on the initial landing page within the DCP, which will prevent the need for each claim to be opened and allocated to a file handler before details of the claim can be established. HMCTS are struggling to put in place these (and other smaller enhancements) due to the fact that many Government systems that sit behind the DCP are interlinked and cover teams including the MoJ and CCMC, meaning that system enhancements have a knock-on effect and require the approval of many other Government organisations.
Finally, while HMCTS have acknowledged the need to build an API at a future date, no timeframe has been set for this and it does not appear to be a priority for them.
We will provide a further update once formal confirmation has been received of the roll-out date for mandating of the defendant process within the DCP.
For more information please contact Natalie Larnder.
Head of Market Affairs
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