It was reported by The Law Society Gazette this week that the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) is monitoring the sector closely due to concerns over hundreds of firms’ over reliance on the increasingly difficult personal injury market.
The Gazette says new SRA figures have ‘laid bare’ the scale of dependence by law firms on the personal injury market.
Some 768 of the 10,506 law firms operating in England and Wales are considered to specialise in the work, with PI claims having generated at least half of their turnover over the past 12 months.
Coming as the Ministry of Justice last week confirmed it wants to implement reforms of the sector by April 2019, introducing a tariff system for soft tissue injury compensation and bringing in a £5,000 small claims limit for RTA claims which threaten to cut solicitors from the vast majority of cases, it is without doubt a critical time.
Of course, the much disputed and long challenged reforms are something we at Hudgell Solicitors have strongly resisted, not solely for fear of impact on us as a business, but because we firmly believe it to be wrong and will only act to prevent people accessing justice and essential treatment for injuries which can have a long term health impact.
Despite all this though, it is fair to say the changes are far from a bolt from the blue for the legal industry, and the personal injury reforms could well have been forced upon us as soon as October had the legislative agenda not been pushed back by Brexit last year.
In short, the changes have been long-coming, dating back to the Jackson Reforms some five years ago, which reshaped the personal injury market forever, and led to our team at Hudgell Solicitors thinking of new ways of working.
We Buy Any Files – a solution for PI practicing and a way forward
Recognising many firms would seek to exit the market, one of our initiatives included the establishment of www.webuyanyfiles.co.uk in 2011, providing those legal businesses which could no longer make PI claims work for them with a smooth, hassle free exit strategy- an offer which remains today and is perhaps proving more attractive now than when first established.
More than 30 deals on and having added thousands of personal injury cases to our own business, we not only steered our business through uncertain times, but created a platform for growth and development, generated extra business which has been vital in helping us reinvest to provide a better service to clients, and strategically develop our work in other areas.
It’s fair to say that in the claims sector, there can’t be a great deal of long-term planning. The rules we work to and abide by are always being picked away at, having an impact on our bottom line.
Just last week the Government announced it will be setting up a working group to look at fixing recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims with a value up to £25,000.
We know its aim will be reducing the amounts paid to lawyers who represent patients let down by the NHS. Patients who simply wouldn’t get the answers they seek, or any financial redress, without expert legal support over a number of years.
Still, the working group is expected to report back this autumn on fixing costs and wider reforms of the clinical negligence process, so once again, firms like ours have to be prepared, and have to plan as far ahead as possible.
Be prepared for change and ready to take opportunities
Some 18 months ago, our senior team at Hudgell Solicitors did just that. We carried out a full strategic review of our business, looked at how we could consolidate in the changing marketplace and identified areas where we could look to strengthen and develop our work.
We focussed on adding key, experienced personnel who had the skills to help us develop in new directions and open doors, ensuring we focused on further enhancing our position as personal injury and medical negligence specialists, supporting those who suffer catastrophic injury and require long term programmes of rehabilitation support.
We ensured we were fully prepared for the changes ahead in the personal injury sector, as we are if fixed costs do become a reality in clinical negligence claims, with a determination to take opportunities and do what we do best, support people in need of legal expertise, compassion and a dedication to doing their best for them.
The law firms which continue to focus through choppy waters will be the ones which ride through the seas of change.