Personal injury and medical negligence specialists Neil Hudgell Solicitors are resisting market pressures to charge for services and are continuing to offer a no win no fee service to all clients. In addition, clients will also still receive 100% of any damages won on claims up to £25,000.
Both guarantees, in place until at least July, come at a time of great uncertainty for personal injury and medical negligence lawyers in England and Wales as they seek to respond to changes in the law, implemented this month, which alter how compensation claims operate.
The changes, part of the so-called Jackson Reforms, affect how much of their costs a client can claim back from the other side and, consequently, whether or not a client can expect to keep all damages recovered on their behalf.
Most law firms are now looking at making a claimant pay a percentage of any damages won to cover legal services and fees. But Neil Hudgell Solicitors are determined to ensure that, for the time being, there are no deductions from any compensation and clients continue to keep 100% of the damages won, particularly in claims up to £25,000.
Neil Hudgell, Managing Director of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, said: “Recent changes in the law have reduced the amount lawyers can expect to receive for their services when handling some personal injury and medical negligence claims.
“To cover this reduction, which in some cases is as much as 70%, some law firms are opting to take a cut of any damages won from clients and, to keep their costs down, some will also be using less qualified and inexperienced staff to process claims.
“We are not following suit. Thanks to our highly efficient business model, we are continuing to offer the same no win no fee guarantee to clients as we have since Neil Hudgell Solicitors was founded 16 years ago. Our clients will continue to be served by qualified and experienced legal experts, to keep 100% of any damages won and not pay a penny if their case is unsuccessful.
“This is our aim for the immediate future and we will review at the end of July when the full impact of the new fixed costs regime comes into operation. In the meantime, we are working intensively with others in the legal services market and business partners to try to ensure we can maintain the no deductions policy in the longer term.”
The legal changes – The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) and its attendant new Civil Procedure Rules – are part of the so-called Jackson Reforms which aim to stop a “compensation culture”.
Under the new system, in operation from the end of April 2013, in many claims cases, particularly road traffic accidents and some types of claims up to £25,000, there is now a “fixed costs regime” – a cap on the amount lawyers can be paid for their services.
For road traffic accidents this has been fixed at £500 (down from £1200). In addition, the success fee and the cost of taking out an insurance policy to cover any court costs cannot be recovered from the losing defendant.
The Neil Hudgell Solicitors 100% guarantee applies to personal injury and medical negligence claims started before all the changes of new fixed cost regime are implemented in July. The practice is still considering its approach to professional negligence and other civil litigation cases.
Some industry experts fear the changes being implemented this month will force many law firms out of business and also reduce access to justice for many people who have legitimate claims for compensation.