Legislation has been introduced to ban lawyers from offering incentives to personal injury claimants
Gifts of iPads and upfront ‘welcome’ payments have been made by some law firms in exchange for pursuing personal injury claims with their firm. The move follows a similar ban on claims management companies introduced in April 2013.The new clause was introduced into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill in the House of Lords by Justice Minister Lord Faulks. He said that the move was “part of our focus on discouraging fraudulent and grossly exaggerated personal injury claims. Such incentives contribute to the so-called compensation culture by offering rewards for bringing a claim, regardless of its merits. It is a practice that we need to stop to protect consumers and indeed, the reputation of the legal profession.”
The move has been broadly welcomed. Personal injury solicitor, Kevin Smith, said, “Personal injury claims are about fairness. They are about getting justice and financial compensation for the injured party. We hope this latest action will help ensure genuine victims receive the highest calibre of service rather than simply going to the highest bidder.”
The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) is concerned that the clause will prevent legitimate support for personal injury victims. “Some firms give or lend electronic devices or mobile phones to claimants with complicated claims so that they can keep in regular touch, keep a record of expenses, schedule medical appointments and other related activity. We believe that it would be to the detriment of some claimants if such a practice was caught within a ban on inducements,” said Craig Budsworth, chairman.
James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professional Risks said, “This news is a shot in the arm for professional indemnity insurers. Anything which cuts down the costs of handling personal injury claims and ensures that only quality claims are pursued will help to keep down premiums for personal injury firms.”
News of the proposed ban has been reported by the Law Society Gazette, Legal Futures website and law firm Goldsmith Williams. It will come as a blow to Solicitors Regulation Authority which previously came out in opposition to banning inducements for solicitors.