First4Lawyers in the Media - March 2022

Media activity got off to a bright start this year when our team’s fundraising efforts for a local foodbank were featured in the press.

For the third year running, we held a Christmas collection for The Welcome Centre in Huddersfield, which provides food, essential items, and practical and emotional support to those in need.

The business topped up staff donations and handed over £1,000, which will buy food for a week for 19 struggling families in the area.

The story appeared in the Huddersfield Times, Huddersfield Unlimited and Business Mondays

As predicted, the government’s Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal continues to provide plenty of comment opportunities.  

Six months on from its launch and with just 9% of people using the portal without the help of a lawyer, our managing director Qamar Anwar wrote in the Law Society Gazette and head of marketing Andy Cullwick shared his thoughts in blogs for Insurance Claims and Legal Futures on why that might be.

“Publicise the portal properly and give people a manual you don’t need a week to read. Give them the tools and this whole project, rather than putting off genuine claimants from seeking damages, might actually start to work the way the government says it was intended,” Andy said.

Perhaps the Ministry of Justice was listening as it subsequently unveiled a new slimline user guide of just 11 pages compared to the previous 68-page tome. Will it prove any easier for lay people to understand? Watch this space.

Further government reforms prompted us to issue comment in February when the Department of Health launched a consultation on the introduction of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) for clinical negligence cases worth up to £25,000.

Qamar was widely quoted in coverage reacting to the announcement including in Insurance Claims, Legal Futures, Solicitors Journal and New Law Journal.

He said: “This all has a very familiar ring to it, mirroring what has already happened in personal injury for so called ‘lower-value claims’, where, despite the best efforts of the government, claimants have shown they still need legal help but are severely limited by the number of law firms able to help them.

“It is true that legal costs have risen in recent years. However, this is only in line with the overall increase in all costs associated with medical negligence claims. Furthermore, NHS Resolution’s accounts for the year 2020/2021 show, in fact, that while its own legal costs went up, those of the claimants came down.

“The government should focus on finding out what is causing negligence in the first place rather than attacking the system that supports innocent victims when things go wrong.”

With claims volumes still significantly down from pre-Covid levels, Andy Cullwick also reflected on the current period of uncertainty in Insurance Claims and advised how businesses must adapt to survive as we all watch and wait for the market to recover. 

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