Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Jackson Report

There really is no other subject being discussed out there in the personal injury world right now. This thing really is huge.

Ive been around a while and Ive seen many changes. Woolf and Access to Justice, the scrapping of legal aid for (non clinical) PI work, the introduction of predictable fees for RTA's etc etc. It has been a changeable and quite traumatic past decade for the industry.

But things are about to get a whole lot worse: and not just for claimant lawyers

The Jackson recommendations will have an impact far and wide in the industry and there is no escaping the game-changing impact of the report. Yes, its purely a proposal document at this stage but trust me, lots of influential people want this to come in and even a change of government will not prevent the findings being implemented.

So where are the big hits?:

1) No success fees

All non RTA cases will be worth 20-30% less in fees. Even a contingency arrangement (which most of us may drop because of the competitive nature of the industry) will not significantly reduce the loss. Once all the other income layers such as med report fee and ATE (see below) commission get stripped out - you will see a 20% drop minimum

2) Predictable fees for Non RTA cases

Profit pinched even more and with little wriggle room for litigation. If the MOJ RTA scheme goes well then you can bet this will be mirrored in non RTA claims before long. Litigation drop off almost completely for bog standard claims. Defendant lawyers have effectively shot themselves in the foot by lobbying for this.

3) No "After the Event" insurance (ATE)

To me this does make sense in some ways. The ATE cover does allow for a "Teflon" process and a risk free claim for the clients. In no other legal environment does such a soft process exist for the claimant. This should quite rightly change. There ought to be however an exception for clinical claims (below)

4) The new rules would also apply to Clinical Negligence claims

Shock horror and revulsion. They are messing with the last bastion of true access to justice by suggesting that clin neg claims can and should be subject to the same rules. What a load of cobblers. How the heck can you fund a clin neg claim without adequate resources in place not least ATE when you have the risk of a long drawn out case hinging on finite clinical points and a completely intransigent unyielding unreasonable opponent in the NHSLA?

They couldnt give two hoots about injured patients at the NHSLA and make some of the most appalling judgements on case management you have ever seen. The idea that you would be backing such claims either with Third Party funding or some other mechanism is just obscene and very far from allowing access to justice.

5) Claims Management Co's are bad boys and along with referral fees - will be banned

Unenforceable, unreasonable, unlikely to even come close to happening. The industry is too big, too sophisticated and we are too reliant upon the referral system for things ever to radically alter. To enforce this rule would mean slapping some VERY big law firms and re-drafting the mechanism for LEI referrals which make millions for the likes of Aviva and Direct Line.

I could write for hours on this stuff because it is just so big. May add more later but I will wait with baited breath for more news following the election in May.

Exciting [if somewhat scary] times.


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