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Survival of the fittest…

Firms best able to adapt to the Post-Jackson market are thriving according to an industry roundtable in the Law Society Gazette this month, while elsewhere in the industry, the war of words continues over noise induced hearing loss claims. PremExtra examines the issues hitting the headlines this July.

Two years after the Jackson reforms were introduced, the Law Society Gazette asked leading figures to assess their impact on the personal injury market. In a roundtable discussion bringing together the great and the good from claimant and defendant markets, the changing face of civil litigation was looked at from all angles.

Among the commentators was Andrew Twambley, managing partner at Amelans, who gave a typically pithy assessment, saying while some firms were still ‘teetering on the brink’, stronger players had found ways to thrive post-Jackson.

However he warned that firms must adapt to survive in a world of fixed costs: “Marketing has been the key,” said Twambley. “If you’re able to get the claims and clients in, you will prosper. If you’re not able to work to fixed fees and portals then you’re doomed.”

Teething troubles for Medco

Just three months after launching the Medco portal on 6 April the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) told Post Online it was considering reforming the fledgling medical reporting system.

The move follows concerns by organisations, including the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, about the quality of medical experts accepted onto Medco since it became active in April 2015.

However, a spokeswoman for the Medco board told Post the MoJ was "reviewing the bedding in process", adding that it was "too early to consider any fundamental changes".

Fixed fee and hearing loss proposal sparks row

The MoJ was again in the headlines when Post Magazine reported stiff opposition from the claimant legal community to industry calls for a fixed-fee regime and the inclusion of industrial deafness in an expanded claims portal.

The Association of British Insurers wants to see noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims processed through the Claims Portal for a fixed-fee. The ABI says less than only 20 per cent of NIHL claimants since 2012 have won compensation because of failure to link hearing loss to claimants’ workplaces.

However, extending the existing claims portal may not be feasible, say key figures. They include John Latter at Zurich. He told Post: "We would rather have a mandatory pre-action protocol with fixed recoverable costs than wait for a new portal to be built or changes made to the existing one."

Rumpus over ‘milking’ NHS claims

In another political story, Solicitors Journal reported that a war of words had broken out over allegations that personal injury lawyers were 'milking the system' of NHS clinical negligence claims.

The furore followed an investigation by the Telegraph and involved health minister Ben Gummer claiming lawyers had acted 'unscrupulously' by using patient claims to pile excessive costs onto the NHS.

This provoked an angry response from personal injury lawyers including Simpson Millar partner Peter Stefanovic. He blamed the NHS for 'routinely fighting meritorious claims and inflating costs for everyone'.

Rollercoaster crash victims receive first payments

Initial insurance payments have now been made to victims of the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash, according to a BBC News report. Stewarts Law, representing eight of those injured on 2 June, was reported as saying interim payments had been released to help with their rehabilitation.

Police probe fake whiplash claims

And finally, the police have continued their assault on fraudulent whiplash cases. Nine people have been interviewed by detectives as part of an investigation into a large-scale referral fee fraud targeting solicitors.

Post Online revealed that City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department detectives suspect the eight men and one woman they interviewed submitted bogus whiplash claims following fictitious road traffic accidents.