Listed law firm DWF has launched a new tool for fast-track personal injury claims, which it says is capable of calculating costs in tens of thousands of cases every year.
Simon Murray, commercial development director for DWF’s connected services division and the firm’s head of costs, said the next iteration would tackle costs claims when fixed recoverable costs were extended to higher-value cases.
Mr Murray said the Semi-Autonomous Fixed-Costs Tool (SAFT, pronounced ‘safety’) had been designed in-house at DWF by its costs lawyers and the DWF 360 software business.
SAFT uses automated data extraction, data analytics and the costs rules to ensure that fixed recoverable costs claims have been accurately calculated and that claims for disbursements are reasonable.
Claims which are wrong or unreasonable are recalculated and the results sent by email to the claimant’s lawyers. Only if these figures are rejected will DWF’s costs team have to analyse and assess the claim manually.
“The idea is that SAFT is autonomous,” Mr Murray said. “There is no need for human intervention, apart from a very simplified instruction process for clients.
“They know the right figure will be paid, and the lawyers can get on with the litigation rather than the costs.
“Clients can put all their claims through the system, though some, who are more risk averse, may opt for a more manual system as a checking mechanism.”
Mr Murray said costs claims on the fast-track ranged from a few hundred pounds to £10,000 or more, including disbursements and costs, and DWF dealt with “many thousands” every year.
He said the current version of SAFT did not use artificial intelligence, but the new one would use machine learning to predict outcomes.
Mr Murray said it took much longer to design SAFT, around three years, than it did to build it, which only took a few months. He said it was used on the live case for the first time three months ago.
Mr Murray said he had the “germ” of the idea when he was running his own costs firm, NeoLaw, which joined DWF in the summer of 2017.
“This is an indication of the way in which the market will move to enable us to continue to be profitable. We already have electronic bills of costs and e-billing. The use of technology is unavoidable.”