A staggering 94% of professionals in the personal injury industry believe that injured people will find it more difficult to access justice following reforms due to come in to force in April 2013.
Government legislation aimed at reducing motor insurance premiums may have the knock on effect of preventing accident victims finding lawyers who can afford to take on their claim with fixed fees slashed by almost 60% under the proposed changes.
A recent industry survey launched by David Bott, Past President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), a campaign group for the rights of injured people, saw more than nine out of ten respondents agree that the reduced MOJ Portal fees will erode access to justice for victims. While 96% felt the proposed reduction was excessive and 95% agreed personal injury firms will struggle to operate after April 2013.
More than nine out of ten respondents agree that the reduced MOJ Portal fees will erode access to justice
In addition to a reduction in costs paid to lawyers, the Government will also ban referral fees paid for cases by law firms making it harder to find work. Tellingly only 16% of respondents believe the referral fee ban will benefit injured people with 77% agreeing it would benefit insurers.
Considering the ban on referral fees has been implemented to reduce motor insurance premiums, there remains considerable scepticism within the industry as less than one in ten people agreed that the ban will actually result in lower premiums for drivers.
Although the results of the survey may not surprise those working in the personal injury industry, they do show the strength of feeling around how injured people may be affected when the reforms are implemented. David Bott, who also sits on the Portal board as a claimant representative, believes we will see a significantly different legal landscape after April.
“This survey appears to show the generally held belief that injured people will be worse off after the reforms, which in itself is awful. But it also shows that those injured people who are prepared to stand up for their rights, may find it all the more difficult to find specialised solicitors to represent them as solicitors themselves are struggling to digest the full impact of the reforms.”
Bott also went on to comment that “law firms will have to become more efficient, and it is my sincere hope that this doesn’t impact on the quality of service delivered to the injured person who is in need of legal services through no fault of their own.”
With an overwhelming majority of respondents stating they felt the legal industry had not been sufficiently consulted on the reforms and with so many believing the changes will benefit the insurers it appears the real winners come April 2013 will be the insurance companies at the expense of the very people they insure.
Notes to Editors
The survey had over 100 respondents from a cross sector of organisations including law firms, insurers and claims management companies.
About Bott and Co
- Bott and Co is a solicitors firm based in Wilmslow, Cheshire and specialising in personal injury.
- The company was founded in 2001 by David Bott, Paul Hinchliffe and Gary Froggatt.
- Bott and Co employ 80 staff and a quarter of those staff have received funding for training or career development from the company.
- The business had a turnover of £12.9m in 2011/12
- Bott and Co won CILEx Employer of the Year in 2010 and was runner up as Manchester Law Society’s Law Firm of the Year 2011.
- David Bott is the immediate past president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
- Bott and Co, a specialist personal injury firm, is one of the most productive law firms in the country, ranking 4th for revenue per lawyer in The Lawyer’s UK200.