Berrymans Lace Mawer (BLM) is targeting defendants with a novel product that offers them a second opinion on discrete issues that may be blocking the resolution of a claim.
ExpressAssist is available for pre-litigated civil claims under £25,000 in the fields of casualty, disease, policy coverage, professional indemnity, product liability and property damage.
It offers tiered fixed-price services – ranging from £250 to £750, depending on the depth of advice or representation required – and in most cases a guaranteed response within three days.
There is no minimum number of instructions required and no obligation to use BLM’s other services. “This means that there is no need for a contract and no need to upset existing panel arrangements,” the firm said.
The issues for which ExpressAssist is appropriate, BLM said, include a difference of opinion between insurers, policyholders and the corporate board; a pressing need to make a decision on liability to keep cases within the extended Ministry of Justice scheme for injury claims; encountering contradictory law from parties involved in a claim; or an immediate need for advice on resolving policy coverage issues.
Partner and head of ExpressAssist Matthew Ford said: “We know that sometimes clients and contacts do not always require a full legal service throughout the lifecycle of a claim and we wanted to provide a product that would allow people to instruct us to help with those issues that can often lead to the wrong claim outcome, prevent resolution, increase costs and divert from other pressing responsibilities.
“We initially developed ExpressAssist to offer extra assistance our clients in light of the reduced time scales for responses on liability, set down by the Ministry of Justice reforms.
“We soon realised that it had a wider application because all business areas had claims which often came up against unnecessary barriers that stopped them from moving forward. We saw a real opportunity to reduce the risk of cost penalties for our clients and to help avoid delays that could interfere with the relationship between insurers/third-party administrators and corporates/policyholders.”
Mr Ford emphasised that the service is not designed to replace the core legal services that BLM offers. “It is an additional or alternative service designed to support our clients to make the right decisions, to save costs and promote the swift resolution of troublesome issues.”