Claimant lawyers have leapt on a newspaper report that accused insurers of “routinely inflating repair costs” by as much as 100%, while receiving “undisclosed kickbacks” for the difference. Lobbying group Access to Justice said the Association of British Insurers had shown “breathtaking hypocrisy” in failing to condemn the practice while continuing to argue for whiplash reform.
Some 560 authorised users of MedCo – law firms, claims management companies and compensators – were suspended from the system earlier in the spring for failing to accept the new user agreement that requires them to declare financial links with any medical reporting organisation. Meanwhile, four tier 1 MROs have been reclassified as tier 2.
MedCo has identified and suspended a further 21 ‘shell’ companies from the MedCo system, taking the total purged since the revised qualifying criteria were put in place last October to 155. The definition of a medical reporting organisation was changed last year to stop the use of shells to gather instructions and forward them on.
MedCo has continued its enforcement activity by suspending 23 medical reporting organisations and 14 direct medical experts for failing to upload medical case data to its system. Both are required to upload medical case data as part of their user agreements.
Solicitors who received the £400 stage 1 fixed-costs payment due under the original version of the RTA protocol do not have to repay the money even though no action was then taken on their cases, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
MedCo issued 337 warning letters to users – and went on to suspend two-thirds of them – over the past year for behaviours such as circumventing the random search selection process and influencing medical experts’ opinions on diagnosis/prognosis, it has emerged.
The Association of Personal Injury has called for a “predictable claim process” for clinical negligence actions if the government goes ahead with its plan to impose fixed costs for cases worth up to £25,000. However, a survey has shown strong public support for fixed fees and for lawyers not receiving more in fees that patients did in compensation.
The widespread expectation that claimant firms would diversify away from road traffic accident work into other, potentially more lucrative areas of personal injury has not proved to be the case, according to new research. It also said the plan to introduce a tariff for low-value RTA damages would remove the “inflationary involvement of the judiciary”.