Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Services (HMCTS) have been developing an online system to issue and deal with claims for a while now and the system became live last month.
The system, or portal, is dedicated to damages claims, which would have normally been issued in the County Court Money Claims Centre.
The DCP allows for claims to be issued 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Particulars of Claim can then be uploaded to the system. Service of documents is done via the portal and the Defendant is notified by email that proceedings have been served. The claim can then be acknowledged and defence served via the same portal.
As mentioned before, in theory, any damages claims which would normally be issued by the CCMCC can start on the portal. For personal injury claims, this means claims of a value up to £100,000 (beyond that, claims are normally issued in the High Court). However, there are exceptions:
So, what about claims with a foreign party?
It is important to also note that there is no possibility to make a counterclaim via the portal at the moment. If a Defendant wishes to make a counterclaim, the claim will come out of the portal and will proceed traditionally.
If the Defendant’s representative is registered with the system, the claim will proceed via the portal. However, if the Defendant is not registered, the claim will be issued via the portal but will need to be served by post or any other way agreed between parties.
The DCP is always open. A claim can be issued at any time of the day (up to midnight on any date). Service or Notification of the Claim Form can be done up to four months after issued, until midnight. However, service of subsequent documents will have to be done by 4pm on the last available day.
The DCP’s aim is to speed up the process and reduce the Courts backlogs.
The Court will not automatically enter judgment in respect of claims that are not answered to in the DCP. The Claimant is of course free to apply for default judgment but if they do not do so, the claim will automatically be dismissed 6 months after the date of service.
At the moment, the portal deals with claims up to the point of allocation, when the claim will be transferred to the appropriate County Court.
However, the portal will be further developed, ultimately providing an end-to-end service from pre-action to enforcement.