If you know a personal injury lawyer, you probably know how many law firms are terrified of the new Legal Aid regulations going into effect from this April.
However, what you might not know is that there was actually an attempt by two major legal industry bodies to try to bring some of these changes to a halt. In particular, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers formally contested a Ministry of Justice decision to slash the amount lawyers could recover from accident claims that were handled through the online Road Traffic Accident Portal, a system for processing low value accident claims.
Unfortunately, MASS and APIL’s bid to stop the recoverable fee reductions – which will see lawyers earning only a maximum of £500, a serious drop from the current maximum of £1,200 – failed in court, which means that the reductions go into effect from the end of April. Both industry bodies said that when the fee structure amendment decision was made, there had been no claimant representatives invited by the Government; unfortunately for MASS and APIL, a judge decided that the Government doesn’t need to explain itself as to whom it does or doesn’t invite to insurance summits, essentially telling personal injury lawyers to simply suck it up and deal with the new changes.
Of course, there’s more trouble brewing on the horizon as well, as there are more than just these changes going into effect from this April. A huge bone of contention in the personal injury world has been the fact that the new Legal Aid legislation will finally ban referral fees, and if you ask me it’s high time for the practice of lawyers buying personal details of those that might have been injured in a car accident from insurance providers.
The only thing that referral fees do is drive up the cost of insurance for honest motorists, especially since more accident claims are being made, resulting in bigger payouts to claimants and their lawyers. It’s a cost-effective system for the legal profession, as an investment of a few hundred pounds can end up netting them hundreds of thousands – if not millions – from success fees, and taken collectively all this litigation ends up with you and I paying more on our insurance premiums as our insurers scramble to keep up with ballooning costs.
Of course, lawyers will say that banning referral fees will cut back on their livelihood and could end up seeing some law firms shuttering their doors because they won’t be making enough cash keep open without the high claims volume. Well, to that I say too bad – we’ve got enough lawyers as it is in this country.