Lawyer Monthly - November 2022

premium from the tortfeasor’s insurer onto the claimant. Granted, the case of Simmons v Castle [2012]EWCAC Civ 1288 decided that a claimant who had been deprived of the right to recover a success fee from a defendant under the Jackson reforms was able to have a 10% uplift on their award for general damages in order to soften the blow. However, the outcome for most claimants is that, compared to 20 years ago when they were recovering 100% of their award, presently they are ultimately recovering around 60% or 70%, with the balance contributing to unrecovered lawyer’s fees and paying for the ATE insurance premium where appropriate. It has been disappointing to see that these reforms have been supported by primarily Conservative governments over the last decade or so, following immense pressure from the insurance industry to effect change. It is of note that, at the time, over 40 Conservative MPs declared financial interests in the insurance industry. However, the reforms were heralded as an effective way to reduce fraudulent claims and would lead to a reduction in insurance premium payments for all motorists. The real effect is that although they have considerably reduced the number of overall claims, the proportionate saving to the motorist – who in many cases are innocent people, not fraudsters – has not been reflected proportionately or at all. It is saddening that the predictions made by claimant personal injury solicitors were correct and the insurance industry has gone on to report hundreds of millions in profits for their shareholders. What are the processes involved in seeking the services of a personal injury solicitor and what are the key steps involved when seeking justice and compensation for your clients? Choosing the right personal injury solicitor to represent you in your claim is a daunting process for some. By way of guidance, the claimant should look for a firm that they are confident is large enough and well financed enough in order to fully litigate the claim. A claimant should also be given the opportunity to have their claim funded on a no win, no fee basis and they should not be asked to pay any fees upfront. If a fee remission is not available for Court fees then you would expect the firm to be paying these disbursements. On the larger claims, the issue fee is £10,000 alone. Once comfortable that the firm is of sufficient standing and has specialist departments dealing with different categories of personal injury claims (which one can easily check by looking at their website), the claimant can then look at accreditation. A specialist personal injury firm will be on personal injury panels and clinical negligence panels. The firm and its particular lawyers will be mentioned in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. Feedback from clients of the firm is also available on sites such as Trustpilot; if they have a few thousand reviews then you are more likely to be able to trust the rating. It is also important that the firm and lawyers within the firm are members of associations who campaign for an improvement to the claimant’s plight. I have been a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers for many years now and have reached the level of Fellow, of which I am very proud. APIL does tremendous work in effecting change for the injured person. At Express Solicitors we are also a member of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations. ACSO is also very effective with its campaigning activity. To some extent this has ameliorated the worse effects of the Reforms. We contribute to the research programmes which provide the data for the Associations to meet with the MOJ and take part in certain working groups to ensure that the claimant is fairly represented. If the personal injury firm is an active member of these types of associations, the claimant can know that the firm is committed to securing maximum compensation for their clients, whilst providing the most cost-effective access to justice available. 52 LAWYERMONTHLYNOVEMBER 2022 It is important that if a case manager is required – which they normally are on catastrophic injury claims – that the claimant and their family have the opportunity to meet with the case manager to see whether they feel that they would get on well together, as they have to work closely.

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