The Law Society advertising campaign attacking insurers is tawdry and unprofessional, the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has claimed.
The society’s ‘Don’t get mugged by an insurer’ campaign is the first time its annual advertising push is focused on a particular area of practice.
The key message of the campaign is to urge consumers to not just accept the first offer of compensation from insurers. As revealed by Legal Futures, the campaign is costing around £300,000.
FOIL chief executive Laurence Besemer said he was “profoundly saddened” by the campaign. “It is unfortunate and misguided on several levels.”
He explained: “There is no problem with the Law Society helping its members to attract clients in challenging times but this is not the way to do it. Calling all insurers muggers is hardly a professional response to recent developments. It should be possible to rise above name calling.”
Mr Besemer said The Law Society existed to represent all of its members but by deliberately setting out to offend the entire client base of a significant section of its membership, defendant insurance lawyers, it was acting contrary to that brief.
He said the evidence from the Financial Services Authority cited by the society that injured claimants receive less if they settle directly with an insurer is four years old.
“In these rapidly changing times, [the evidence] is open to challenge simply by dint of its age. However, worse than that, the Law Society appears to have overlooked the statement in the report’s executive summary that the findings were based on data from just three insurers. Even the report’s authors say its findings are not reliable.”
Further, it was carried out before the Association of British Insurers issued its guidance to insurers on how to deal directly with claimants.
“At a cost of £300,000 for this tawdry campaign, I would have thought the Law Society had better things to do with its members’ funds.”
A Law Society spokeswoman responded: “While it is unsurprising that FOIL find themselves unable to endorse it, we have had excellent feedback from many members and from the public for our ‘Don’t get mugged’ campaign. The campaign seeks to reinforce the value of seeking advice from a solicitor. It does so in an intentionally thought provoking and memorable way.
“Evidence regarding third-party capture is difficult to obtain, since most of it is held by the insurers themselves. Indeed, without a freedom of information request, the FSA/insurer data referred to would still be hidden from view.”
Earlier this week claimant lawyers hit out at insurer AXA for its use of statistics in campaigning for whiplash reform.