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The Civil Liability Act 2018 arrives but latest Claims Portal data shows a confident market

On the day that the Civil Liability Bill gets Royal Assent and becomes the Civil Liability Act 2018, we look to the Claims Portal data for the month of November and see signs of a recovering claims market.

Highlights

It is true to say that all 4 portals showed a lower intake of new claims when November is compared to October, but this is explicable on the basis of a shorter working month. RTA fell 4.6%, PL by 2.9% and EL by 3.6%, while the reduction in working time was worth an adjustment factor of 4.3%. EL disease fell 12.8%.

The longer term trends remain stable for RTA, PL and EL, with month-on-month increases applying to RTA and to PL in November. RTA and PL have now been effectively stable for the last 8 months, while in fact this month RTA rose 0.2% and PL increased by 0.1%. EL fell 0.3% over the month but has been essentially stable for 14 months. EL disease is the exception and fell 3.6%, the 35th consecutive monthly fall.

In the case of RTA we are now two-thirds of the way thought to the end of year 2018/19, and as to the exercise for next April when we compare that year to 2017/18 we are now projecting a year-end total of 706,901, which would be an annual 1.0% increase after the 12.0% fall which was last year's result. It now seems clear that 2018/19 will show an end of year rise, the only question being the extent of it.

Use of stage 3 before reaching settlement has stabilised for RTA, PL and EL, with prior increasing trends seeming to be over. This leaves use of stage 3 at 30% for RTA and at 10% for PL and for EL.

New RTA claims in November

November saw 62,886 new RTA claims entering the process, which represents a 4.6% reduction from the level of 65,928 seen in October. It should though be recalled that October had seen the highest level for 20 months. November's number is the 3rd highest in year 2018 to date.

November 2018's level was in fact 2.3% higher than the number seen in November 2017; though was lower than in November 2016 by 9.8% and lower than November 2015 by 14.1%.

The average monthly intake of new RTA claims for 2018 has risen to 59,222. This is now only 0.5% below the annual average of 59,521 which we saw in calendar year 2017. Over the last 2 months, the difference has fallen from 2.4% to the current 0.5%, so it seems that once we have December's data, the average monthly outturn for 2018 may be close to 2017's level.

Comparing with the first 11 months of 2017 when the monthly average was 60,355, the current average level for 2018 is now 1.9% lower. Again, this has reduced from 3.3% over the last 2 months.

New RTA claims in November – time weighted

There were 22 working days in November, a reduction of working time of 4.3% from the 23 in October. This percentage is very similar to the actual reduction in new claims volumes of 4.6% and so this factor is likely to be the main explanation for the monthly decrease.

The current daily average for new RTA claims is 2,858, the third highest of the year. While December's number will be likely to show a reduction due to seasonal factors as seen every year as the graph above demonstrates, it may be that on the basis of the current trend that during the early part of 2019 the daily average will return above the 3,000 level for the first time in 2 years.

New RTA claims over the longer term

Assessing the data longer term via the 12 month cumulative route continues to reinforce the position seen over previous months namely that here has been a stable level of new claims volumes since March 2018. Since that time there have been 4 monthly increases alongside 4 monthly reductions.

The current level of 700,343 is 0.2% over the March figure of 698,801 as well as the same percentage above last month's figure of 698,932.

Over the last 34 months there have now been 7 monthly increases, of which 4 have been during the last 8 months, set alongside 27 monthly decreases.

There has been a substantial reduction in the rate of decline over the last 2 years: between November 2016 and November 2017 it was 12.1%, while over the last 2 months it has been only 2.9%.

Comparison with annual portal and CRU data

The inclusion of the data for November means we are now two-thirds of the way through the accounting year till the end of March used by the DWP in their annual assessment of CRU claims data. Extrapolating from the current 471,267 by allowing for 4 further months at the same level produces an anticipated figure of 706,901.

We saw in last month's assessment that for the first time it was possible to predict a year on year increase in new RTA claims when next spring we are able to compare 2018/19 with 2017/218. At that time the likely increase was 0.2%: adding November's data increases that uplift to 1.0% when 706,901 is compared to the 2017/18 total at the time of 700,008.

Whereas it was clear at the end of 2017/18 that there had been a reduction of 12.0% when the annual data was compared to 2016/17, it now seems possible to say clearly on the basis of the latest trends that 2018/19 will show an increase over the previous year; the only question being the size of the increase.

The 2018/19 projected portal total is now 8.8% higher than the 2017/18 CRU total of 650,019.

New casualty claims in November

New PL claims

There were 5,239 new PL claims in November, a reduction of 2.9% from October's level of 5,394, though October had seen the highest number of new PL claims for 20 months. Indeed, with the exception of October, we saw in November the highest number of new PL claims since October 2017. The month on month fall of 2.9% was also smaller than the reduction of working days of 4.6%.

November 2018 was higher than November 2017 by 1.4%, though lower than in October 2016 by 1.1% and less than October 2015 by 10.9%.

The average monthly PL intake for the calendar year 2018 to date is now showing an increase over the corresponding figure for 2017: 2017 showed a monthly average of 4,917 while the current average for 2018 now stands 0.3% higher at 4,930.

Over the first 11 months of 2017 the average monthly level stood at 5,035. The current average for 2018 to date which stands at 4,930 is 2.1% less.

New EL claims

November's data records 3,995 new EL claims, a reduction from October's level of 4,146 of 3.6%, but again less than the 4.6% factor of reduced working time. With the exception of October, this is still the highest level since January.

The current level is though lower than in the past 3 Novembers: it is lower than in November 2017 by 3.7%, less than in November 2016 by 6.9%, and below the level seen in November 2015 by 9.2%.

The average monthly intake of EL claims in the current calendar year was already higher than in 2017: the average is now 3,944 which remains higher than the 2017 average of 3,854 by 2.3%.

Comparing the first 11 months of both years, at 3,944 the current total is 0.3% below the comparative level for 2017 which stood at 3,955.

New EL disease claims

451 was the number of new claims to the EL disease portal in November. This represents a 12.8% reduction from the total for the prior month of 517, which in turn had been the highest level since April.

The current level is well below the last 3 Novembers: it is lower than in November 2017 by 34.6%, than in November 2016 by 47.6% and compared to November 2015 the differential is 72.3%.

The monthly average for the calendar year to date is 537, this is 29.5% below the 2017 average of 762, and is also 31.9% less than the average for the first 11 months of last year at 788.

New casualty claims over the longer term

PL claims

Moving to the 12 month cumulative basis for longer term trends, over this month we saw a 0.1% increase from 57,765 to the current level of 57,838.

Over the last 41 months since the prior increasing trend came to an end, we have seen 33 monthly reductions but also 8 monthly increases. 7 of those 8 have come in the last 14 months.

The average monthly rate of reduction for the calendar year to date is unchanged at 0.2%, less than the average reduction for 2017 of 0.7%.

Longer term trends show reducing rates of decline: as between November 2016 and November 2017 the fall was 8.2%, while over the last 12 months it has been 2.4%.

EL claims

In the case of EL, over the course of November we saw a reduction of 0.3% from 46,296 to 46,141.

Over the last 36 months since the earlier increasing trend ended, there have been 11 monthly increases alongside 25 monthly reductions, while over the last 14 months we have seen 6 increases and 8 reductions.

The average monthly reduction during the calendar year so far is now a mere 0.02%, rather less than last year's 0.6%.

As with PL, longer term figures show a reducing rate of decline: from 6.7% between November 2016 to November 2017, to 1.2% over the last 12 months.

EL disease claims

Looking at EL disease claims over the last 12 months, over the month we see a reduction of 3.6% from 6,623 to 6,384. This is the 35th consecutive monthly decline following an earlier increasing trend.

The average monthly rate of decline remains at 2.7%, so still effectively double the monthly average for 2017 of 1.4%.

Against that background it is unsurprising that when we compare the rate of decline over the last 12 months with the prior 12 months that the decline has increased in speed. Between November 2016 and November 2017 it was 23.8% while over the last 12 months it has been 31.2%.

Retention rates

In November, retention rates were stable for RTA and EL, but reduced for PL and for EL disease.

While longer term rates are generally unchanged: the same levels as last month apply to RTA at 54%, PL at 23% and EL disease at 4%, while EL fell 1% to 28%.

Stage 3 claims are counted as being retained within the portal process.

RTA claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels

Stage 3

There were 6,309 new RTA court packs in November as a prelude to use of stage 3. This represents a fall of 1.2% over the month from October's level of 6,309, though this in turn is less than the 4.3% reduction in working days.

Over 2018 to date the monthly average number of court packs now stands at 6,160, which is an increase of 0.2% over the average for the calendar year of 2017 of 6,145. But there is no sign of any further increasing trend as was seen over the period up to mid-2016.

PSLA levels

Average PSLA in November was £2,849, which is a reduction of 0.1% from the prior month, though still the 3rd highest to date.

The current level is 2.4% above that seen last November when we would expect the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines suggesting an average increase of 4.8% to have started to impact.

Casualty claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels

Stage 3

With PL, there were 59 court packs prepared, a month on month reduction of 15.7%; the 2018 monthly average reduces to 69.

As to EL, 73 court packs was the output, a reduction of 6.4%, and the 2018 monthly average reduces to 79.

In the case of EL disease, there was 1 court pack, as opposed to the zero the previous month, with the calendar year monthly average now being 2.

PSLA levels

In the case of PL, this fell 0.2% to £4,327, though still the 6th highest to date. The current level is 0.8% above the pre-14th JCG level.

With EL, PSLA fell as much as 5.6% to £4,093, the lowest level for 6 months. There is still no measurable effect from the latest edition of the JCG.

And as to EL disease, the level fell 7.2% to £4,158, though the preceding month had been the highest for 3 years. The current level is 6.6% above where it stood pre-14th edition.

Comparative use of stages 2 and 3

The prior trend of increasing use of stage 3 before RTA settlements could be reached which was clearly apparent between 2013 and 2017 has equally obviously not continued in 2018. Use of stage 3 continues to remain at around 30%, with the current level being marginally less than that figure. It may be the case that talking account of the optional aspect surrounding the decision whether to use stage3 that 30% of claims is a realistic maximum.

In the case of PL and EL, there was a similar increasing trend between 2014 and 2017, though this too was not followed in 2018 and current usage remains at around 10%.

Regards

Contact

For more information please contact Simon Denyer, Legal Development Consultant Simon.Denyer@dwf.law

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.

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