Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Legal Advice Online - for FREE...? Really??

In an increasing trend law firms seem to be offering their services for virtually no cost in an attempt to engage with consumers and sell them something today tomorrow or sometime soon.

Maybe its an enticement to get people through the doors but you have to wonder how firms that do this actually make money.

I do like the wise old legal advice owl shown here though; www.online-legal-advice.co.uk - clever!!

Rob Terry steps down as chairman of Quindell

Following a flurry of media activity aimed at explaining why Rob Terry and others borrowed money to buy back shares in Quindell, the man himself has quit. This has left many questions unanswered but one question did pop up on an FT.com blog post today.

What would the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) do if a firm like Quindell ever went under..?

They own law firms that manage up to 100,000 claims between them. How would the SRA cope if this type of ABS entity went belly up..? I can only imagine and let us hope that it never comes to pass.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quindell .. doubts emerge

Quindell have been busy snapping up law firms (Silverbeck Rymer, Pinto Potts) and claims management companies (Accident Advice Helpline) during the last 2 years.

Their relentless march continued this year with a rumours they were looking for a clinical negligence firm, they were also said to be building a claims "factory" in Leeds.

If you were connected with them in any way you could look forward to a solid high volume conveyor belt future. In the personal injury world that is an incredibly tantalizing prospect right now.

But then came the "share scare" last month.

Alleged shorting.

Some difficult questions raised - and answered in fairness. A very bullish reply to the brouhaha from Quindell.

I hope that what glitters is in fact gold. We need Quindell to bring stability to the industry and to give hope to those working in this wonderful sector. Its a big boys game nowadays and all we can hope is that the big boys deliver.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sexual Abuse Legal Claims On the Increase

Sexual abuse claims soar following the Savile revelations 
Personal injury firms have seen one growth area during the turmoil of recent years. Claims for sexual abuse compensation are soaring after the recent publicity given to Jimmy Savile and other high profile individuals.
Lawyers are dealing with an increase in enquiries as victims are spurred on by the openness surrounding the subject. After years in the shadows people are starting to discover they are firstly not alone but secondly also have legal rights.  
Claims can be made against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (or CICA sometimes confusingly referred to as the criminal injuries board)   
This can only be a good thing for the victims and with awards of up to £22000 possible for such claims, it is no wonder that lawyers are taking an interest when you consider the % contingency fee that can apply. Legal costs sadly are not recoverable from the CICA but be aware they very often can be if a case is made against an organisation, local authority or a business.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Walker Morris to close their PI department inside 12 months

Rather shocking news given the size of this firm and their history in the growth of the personal injury market. WM Solicitors are (it is reported) to shut their PI unit inside 12 months and will also be closing / selling their website Distinctly Legal to concentrate on "core services".

This will surprise many in the industry but when you consider the following:

-- Conveyor belt LEI work is being retained by the insurers utilising new ABS vehicles (didnt the SRA say that could never happen?)

-- Solicitors - even the biggest ones - cannot market PI independently on the same mass / volume level that they have enjoyed previously. Its just too expensive

Factor in the substantial cut in fees introduced by the recent reforms and for many firms you have a recipe for disaster.

We knew it was coming, well ..... its arrived.  

Thursday, October 03, 2013

LASPO  - Six Months On

It’s exactly six months since the controversial reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 came into effect on the 1st of April. Now that the dust has settled, what do industry figures really think of the changes, and what does the future have in store for the personal injury sector?

Find out what prominent industry figures Tim Kevan (ex-barrister, creator of the Guardian’s Baby Barista blog and co-editor of the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal (PIBULJ)), barrister Aidan Ellis, and Alan Kennedy (the founder of National Accident Helpline, the UK’s biggest personal injury claims company), have to say.

LASPO and its impact on personal injury claims

The 2013 reforms aimed at eradicating the UK’s so-called ‘compensation culture’, have been criticised by many commentators, including Labour Peer and shadow spokesman on legal aid Lord Bach, for limiting access to justice and for hitting those who are worst off the hardest. 
Tim agrees, saying his main concern is the “detrimental effect [the changes] could have on those who have been injured and have a legitimate claim, both in terms of the amount of money they might ultimately receive, and worse still on the more fundamental issue of access to justice. Some claimants may slip through the net if their claims are not seen as viable due to the balance of recoverable costs and risk”.
LASPO abolishes the recoverability of success fees from defendants in most personal injury cases, and means that success fees will be often be deducted from the compensation awarded. Tim points out that the “general principle for most damages in this country is that they should be compensatory”, in other words, putting someone back in the position they would have been in if the accident had not happened. Tim believes that this principle is undermined when costs which have been legitimately incurred by the claimant then have to be paid from their compensation, rather than by the wrong-doer's insurer. He adds “I fear that this may not be adequately compensated through the 10% increase in general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity”.
Aidan adds that the introduction of Damages Based Agreements for no win no fee personal injury claims could on occasion “cause serious ethical dilemmas for lawyers”, such as when advising clients on whether or not to accept an offer, as in some circumstances the claimant’s decision will have a “direct effect on whether and how much the lawyer gets paid”.      
So what does all this mean for those who believe they’re entitled to compensation? Is it simply not worth making a claim anymore?
Alan Kennedy from National Accident Helpline stresses that those injured and in need of compensation should not be put off by the LASPO reforms, but says because it’s likely claimants will have to pay some of their costs out of their compensation, it’s “now more important than ever that people choose an honest firm” with which to make their claim. Some firms will place a cap on the amount they deduct from the claimant’s compensation, whereas others will be less clear about their charges in the event of a successful claim. Similarly some firms may leave consumers exposed to litigation risk and ask for a payment of upfront fees.  “It’s critical that claimants understand exactly where they stand when starting the claims process”.

The future of personal injury claims - what will change in the next five years?

As Aidan points out, “five years can be a short time in litigation”. Already figures released by the Claims Management Regulation Unit (CMRU), reveal that the number of claims management companies fell by nearly 30% recently, with many companies closing because of financial pressure resulting from the LASPO reforms.
Tim, Aidan and Alan all agree that this trend looks set to continue, and that smaller high street firms in particular may struggle to cope. They expect to see lots of mergers as small firms strive to achieve the economies of scale necessary.
While acknowledging that consolidation within the PI sector is inevitable, Alan believes that there is also an upside for claimants, as the remaining operators will “have to be very tuned into consumer needs, and will, like NAH, have to provide consumers with guarantees around charges and risk as well as consistently high levels of expertise and customer service.
In addition, Tim expects there to be an increasing shift towards firms using online marketing, and the provision of some services online, as “if law firms get it right, they have access to an enormous market far more easily than before”.

Watch this space…

LASPO is just one of a number of issues currently affecting the personal injury sector, and it may be more than five years before the full implications of the reforms are known.

As far as the claimant is concerned, LASPO does not mean the end to access to justice. The reforms bring both advantages and drawbacks, but it’s clear that it’s now more important than ever that the claimant chooses carefully when it comes to selecting a solicitor, firm, or claims management company to handle their claim.