Latest portal data shows previous trends becoming hidden by the holiday month of August
Portal data for the month of August is notorious for the lack of conclusions which can safely be drawn from it, and so the figures released this afternoon come as no surprise. Shorter working months, this time affected by summer holidays, make it more problematic to safely identify trends.
New RTA claims
Last month there were 69,000 new claims to the RTA portal. This is a fall of 15% from the 81,500 seen the previous month, which in turn was the second highest month on record.
In truth, neither the fact of the fall, nor its extent, should be seen as a surprise. The shorter working month was never going to see a result close to July’s near record number of new claims.
The new claims number in August is always lower than the preceding month. While this year the drop was 15%, in 2013 it was 21% and in 2014 it was 11%. The 69K level for August 2015 was still the highest August number of new claims since the portal opened. And it is 6% higher than August 2014.
And it is also worth noting that despite August being a holiday month, with the exception of the near record preceding month of July, the level of new claims is still the same as seen in the two previous months of May and June. Despite the fact that is that claimant lawyers will have been at their desks for fewer days in August.
Longer term RTA trends
The next graph showing the cumulative picture over the preceding 12 months continues on an upward curve, now for a 16th consecutive month. The explanation of course is that while August 2015 showed a fall in new CNFs, there is still a 12 month cumulative increase as the number of new claims last month was higher than August 2014 which has now dropped off the end of the period of the last 12 months which we are looking at.
Last month, we saw that taking into account July’s near peak, the 12 month period of August 2014 to July 2015 had shown that there had been 880k new claims, an increase in new claims of 11% when compared to the previous 12 months. This month, the same data now adding August 2015 shows a new RTA claims number of 884k over the 12 months up to that date, and the annual increase now stands at 10.5%. In our view, nothing should be read into that 0.5% fall; rather the level of increase over 12 months should currently be seen to be relatively stable.
Clearly, the level of new claims for September will show higher levels than for July when we get it next month. That has certainly been the case over the last two years. We predict the same this time round. It will be the extent of the increase that will be the centre of focus.
New casualty claims
The three casualty portals also unsurprisingly and for the same holiday-related reasons show a reduced number of new claims submitted last month. The numbers and the falls are as follows:
EL – down 14% to 5,104
PL – down 12% to 6,904
EL disease – down 8% to 1,665
Comparing to last August, the broad but not the entire picture is of more casualty claims entering the portals than in August 2014. While as we saw above that RTA claims last month were 6% higher than in August 2014, the corresponding figure for EL show the level is 8% higher, while in EL disease it’s in fact no less than 28% higher. In PL, the August 2015 level is in fact 1% lower than the previous August.
Again, as with RTA claims, we expect the number of new casualty claims to increase significantly in September. The primary interest will be on the extent of the increase.
The 12 month cumulative data for casualty claims shows again that there is stability in the number of new PL claims, while EL and EL disease continue to edge marginally upwards.
Our latest graph produced on a 12 month cumulative basis shows a relatively stable picture. Decreasing trends on PL and EL seem to be levelling off. EL disease continues to remain more volatile as problems remain in making the best use of the current portal process for that type of claim.
The August factor is again apparent. But the high use of stage 3 and the attraction of the costs associated with it are still clear.
In RTA there were 4,628 new court packs prepared, a fall of 12% from July, but still the third highest level ever with the exceptions being the two previous months.
In EL, there were 30 packs, a drop of 19%, but as with RTA the third highest ever with the exceptions being the same months of June and July.
The position was similar in PL with 38 packs produced, a fall of 14%, with only 4 higher months.
But as we often find with the portal and its data, EL disease was the exception with only 3 court packs the entire month, the lowest volume for 16 months.
We expect the release of the next edition of the Judicial College Guidelines imminently, probably on 17 September. It is likely to have an inflationary effect in the months ahead.
In RTA, the trend remains flat. Last month’s average of £2,559 was the lowest for 14 months, but over that time the highest monthly total was only 1.5% more. We see the significance in the continued stable position rather than the marginal monthly fall.
In EL and PL, the trend is upwards. The August levels were £3,596 and £3,751 respectively. EL is now at its highest level ever, while the current PL level was only ever once higher, in the previous month of July.
Again, EL disease is the exception, with the monthly average of £3,785 being the lowest since the first portal disease claims were settled. This this is the first month when the level of PSLA for EL disease has fallen almost to the level of another portal, as last month it was only £34 more than in the PL portal.
In all these areas, the month of September should allow greater visibility in current and future trends.
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.