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LEGAL SECTOR NEWS ROUNDUP

In our paper review this month, the Solicitors Regulation Authority tells the Telegraph why the referral fee ban won't work, while one barrister suggests the 10% damages uplift in Jackson will get 'lost in the wash'.

With the countdown to Jackson reading less than eight months to go, the personal injury baton for August appears to have been passed from the Daily Mail to its ideological stablemates at the Telegraph.

In an interview with the paper Richard Collins, executive director at the Solicitors Regulation Authority explained pointedly: "It does not automatically follow that banning referral fees will achieve what the Government is seeking to do. The market is instantly adaptable I think the vast majority of solicitors will very quickly and willingly make sure they are compliant with the new statutory ban."

Mr Collins' organisation was given a slightly narrower platform on which to respond to a further story that day, as the paper reported how the Information Commissioner's Office has made spam text messaging a 'top priority' and that the practice had grown to be "a significant threat to consumers". With the spam issue directed largely at the claims management sector, the story also pointed the finger of blame at solicitors operating city centre advice stands. In this instance the SRA was invited to point out simply that 'hello' was about all any law firm employee could say to passersby; direct solicitation being against the profession's code of conduct.

One of the less discussed but no less controversial elements of the Jackson reforms has been the 10% uplift in general damages which will come into force from next April to compensate claimants for the loss of success fees which lawyers will be able to take out of the client's damages. Kings Chambers barrister Nigel Poole QC suggests the change might as well not happen at all because only the "brave litigator" will seek out such a target. "The 10% increase will surely get 'lost in the wash' in negotiations," said Mr Poole QC. "Most claims for damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity are for less than £10 000. Would the claimant's solicitor be certain that a claimant will recover £8800 rather than £8000 or £2200 rather than £2000? I suggest not."