Leading medical reporting organisations (MROs) and insurers have reached an agreement concerning the recoverability of medial agency fees, which should bring greater certainty about the amounts payable.
Negotiated between AMRO (the Association of Medical Reporting Organisation) and a group comprising most of the UK's major liability insurers, the agreement provides a cap on the amount to be charged for GP, orthopaedic and A&E consultant reports for road traffic accident (RTA), employment liability (EL) and public liability (PL) cases where general damages are not anticipated to exceed £15,000.
The agreement provides that insurers will not challenge the amount of the fee, provided it is within the cap, and sets two levels of fees, a lower sum being payable by insurers for early settlement.
The agreement expressly provides for any other MROs and/or insurers who wish to join the scheme to be able to do so by giving notice either to Colman Coyle LLP (who acted for AMRO) or Beachcroft LLP (who acted for the insurers).
In light of the agreement, the insurers' appeal to the Court of Appeal in Woollard v Fowler has been withdrawn. The decision of Senior Costs Judge Hurst therefore stands – namely, that agency fees are recoverable under the fixed costs regime.
Howard Colman of Colman Coyle LLP, who acted for both the claimant in Woollard and AMRO in these negotiations, said: "I am sure all involved in the claims process will welcome the fact that these issues have been resolved by agreement rather than having to continue to ask the courts to decide them. The parties were assisted by the CJC in resolving their differences and it was heartening to see goodwill and a desire on both sides to find a workable solution."
Matthew Game, past chairman of AMRO and managing director of the medical reports agency involved in the Woollard case, said: "This is a satisfactory outcome for all parties with an interest in the provision of medical evidence.
"After the doubts, uncertainties and disagreements of the past, the way forward is now clear for everyone involved. Pragmatism and wisdom have prevailed."