First4Lawyers responds to Civil Liability Act reforms delay

Our managing director responds to the delay to whiplash reforms and features in the media in articles alongside many other industry voices.

 
Thought Leadership, Industry Updates

First4Lawyers responds to Civil Liability Act reforms delay

4 MINS

Qamar Anwar, managing director, February 28, 2020

Following mounting speculation, it is official. The whiplash reforms have been delayed by five months until August 2020, but the statement released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has done little to alleviate concerns that they will provide a simple, user-friendly and efficient route to justice for RTA victims.

While the delay was welcomed across the industry, the MoJ used the announcement to confirm some good news regarding vulnerable road-users, who will continue with the current fast-track process. And, some not so good news, with the decision to cut ADR from the portal to manage disputed liability claims, contradicting previous reassurances given by ministers to avoid any risk of consumer detriment.

As Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers commented in his LinkedIn post: “If anything, they appear to be lurching from one disaster to another. Whilst it’s encouraging to see that vulnerable road users and minors will be exempt from the increase in the small claims track limit, the decision to drop the ADR from the online service shows that many areas of the reforms have simply not been thought through enough. Equally, the statement gives no reassurance about when and how all the outstanding work will be delivered, which isn’t any comfort to all those businesses trying to plan for these reforms. Can we realistically see August as enough time to get this all sorted?”

Along with many other industry voices, which included Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) and Gordon Dalyell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, First4Lawyers managing director, Qamar Anwar, featured in the media responding to the MoJ’s announcement.

He called for the extra time granted not to be wasted and for the MoJ to issue the new rules without further delay, which received coverage in Legal Futures, Insurance Business, Insurance Times, Solicitors Journal and POST online commenting that:

“Today’s announcement was inevitable as the Ministry of Justice has dragged its feet in making the decisions needed to meet the April implementation date.

“What is important now is that the extra time granted by the delay isn’t wasted. The onus is on the Ministry of Justice to ensure all the new rules are published without further delay, and all the outstanding issues with the claims process are settled, to allow businesses on all sides the proper time to prepare.

“We also need reassurance that plans have been laid for a much needed public information campaign – these reforms are bad enough for injured people without them being left clueless on the changes and how even to access the process.

“There remains a significant responsibility on the Ministry of Justice and MIB to focus on the needs of injured people and make sure that these reforms do not end up as the total denial of justice that many fear they will be.”

In helping First4Lawyers panel law firms prepare for the Civil Liability Act reforms, a new lead generation model was unveiled at the end of 2019, which guarantees that law firms will only pay for the volume and type of personal injury (PI) enquiries they receive.

It operates alongside First4Lawyers’ existing panel scheme – for which firms pay a flat monthly marketing fee and receive a fluctuating number of enquiries on a month-by-month basis. In contrast, those choosing the new ‘fee per enquiry’ model will mean the transfer of risk to First4Lawyers, guaranteeing that law firms only pay for the volume and type of enquiries they receive each month.

The two models will continue to run alongside each other while the timeline for implementation of the reforms is delayed, enabling law firms to decide which one is best suited to their own business.

Qamar Anwar said: “One thing the reforms will not do is stop people being injured. Access to justice is core to our work and we want to ensure that consumers can continue to find lawyers to represent them.

“We are confident in our ability to deliver what legal practices need and First4Lawyers has always adapted to changes in the market in a way that helps the law firms we work with. We recognise how difficult the reforms will make life for many personal injury firms and are committed to working with them to ensure their practices remain viable.

“That means adopting a flexible approach to meet the needs of our panel members and in the first instance, a new, alternative model.

“We now wait to find out what the rules and protocols will be and hope to see the MoJ launch a public information campaign to make sure they are doing their best for those who are injured and in need of help.”

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