I post (with his permission) a letter from Kerry Kirkbride. It relates to the regular issue of insurers ignoring claimant solicitors and writing to claimants directly after notification on the Portal.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PORTAL?
“I am a claimant Personal Injury Lawyer and a Director of Active Legal.
I am writing to you as I am at my wits end as to who to contact, to find someone who actually cares, about the complete contempt shown by the insurance industry towards the legal system, protocols and the principles of justice.
I have recently submitted a CNF in respect of a matter that I have no reason to believe is fraudulent. It is claim for injuries sustained at work. Travellers Insurance are the appropriate insurers. The case in question currently presents itself as under £25000 and as such fixed costs apply.
I have attached for your benefit a copy of two letters I have received today from Travellers. I have spoken to the claimant and explained the situation and he is happy for me to disclose his name. [Those details are not reproduced on this blog].
I have telephoned Travellers to ask on what authority do they rely to entitle them to write these letters. The insurers are writing to my client direct emphasising Fraud, despite the CNF being submitted by a registered portal user and to me, his legal representative, requesting I provide a copy of the signed Form of Authority confirming our instruction. Furthermore adding :”A timely response to this request will prevent delay in considering the Claim”. I have been told by Travellers that this is a new pilot scheme they are running and that they are not alone as most insurers are now doing this.
The implications of this are:
Travellers question our integrity and imply that clients may be the victims of fraud which immediately erodes the confidence of our clients in us. I have had to reassure my client I am not a fraudster and Active Legal are a legitimate firm.
Travellers make direct contact with our clients despite being aware of our instruction and without our authority to do so or notifying us of their intention to do so
Travellers use the word Fraud in bold twice which is a deliberate attempt to intimidate.
Travellers imply that should we fail to respond to their request (which I believe they have no entitlement) then they will delay their consideration of the claim. This shows a total and deliberate contempt for the protocol.
Travellers are asking for another layer of work under fixed cost cases when such work is unreasonable and unnecessary and any communication should be limited to the portal.
Travellers are articulating, what I have been convinced has been happening subtly for a long time, that fraud is implied until proved otherwise. This is contrary to the burden of proof.
What is the purpose of the portal, registration under the portal system and the CNF statement of truth if we have to go beyond this and prove we are not fraudsters before Claimant’s claims can be investigated.
I would like to assume that the courts would support claimant’s if the protocol is unreasonably or deliberately breached and as in this case, where there is a clear intention by the defendants to not follow the timetable to respond unless we comply with their demands, in awarding costs against the Defendants or their insurers in respect of applications that necessarily follow but I have become so cynical by what has been allowed to happen over the last 2 years that I fear I am simply banging my head against a brick wall.
Do insurers have a legitimate right to demand this?”