A Yorkshire law firm has set up a service to review compensation claims handled by “substandard lawyers” because it believes the Jackson reforms will lead to an increase in poor legal advice.
Personal injury lawyers at Emsleys have launched ‘Review My Claim’ – with the tagline 'Specialist help for the victims of substandard lawyers' – to help clients receive the correct payout.
Partner Andrew Greenwood said that the onset of the dramatic changes to the personal injury sector would result in more clients receiving sub-standard legal advice – because of the “dumbing down” of expertise.
He said he came up with the idea around 18 months ago after speaking to a solicitor about a case where an RTA victim had been left wheelchair-bound and received just £5,000.
He said: “It was one of those RTA ‘factories’ that handled it and it was so palpably wrong that it got me thinking about that end of the market, the dumbing down of experience and expertise.
“There is an increased use of inexperienced and unqualified staff and I thought there must be a large number of people in similar positions to that client. It got me thinking about where the market place was going and I started from there.”
Mr Greenwood said the “drilling down” of profitability in PI, caused by government caps on fees, means that solicitors will only be able to offer a client a certain amount of time and level of service in some cases.
He added: “This is only going to increase with the Jackson reforms coming in. It is akin to what happened in the conveyancing market, which used to be the preserve of the qualified solicitor charging on scale fees and there was a rigour and professionalism to it. Gradually the market place crumbled and you had the advent of conveyacing factories.
“Now, PI work in particular is the low end volume work and there is a real opportunity out there for us.”
Mr Greenwood said the Review My Claim initiative can lead to claims being tripled after a thorough review.
He said that in his 28 year PI career, he has seen standards “deteriorate massively” and that it has given the industry a “bad reputation”.
He added: “Some firms and claims management companies use unqualified and inexperienced claims handlers who are incentivised to settle quickly.
“Claimants are often pressured into making quick decisions, accepting compensation which is nowhere near what they’re entitled to.”
Review My Claim will deal with claims in progress, where people are unhappy with the advice they’re getting, where their advisers have made a mistake or when they’ve been told their case has no merit.
It will also advise on settled claims where people are unhappy with the amount of compensation they’ve been awarded.
The new service launches this month and will be led by Mr Greenwood and his colleagues Howard Serr and Natalie Argyle.