Qamar Anwar Comments on: OIC Portal Fallout

Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, said:

“The Ministry of Justice has been kicking this can down the road for long enough and must now answer serious questions about the effectiveness of the portal in delivering access to justice.

Motor claims are at a record low and the data we have seen so far suggests that is, at least in part, because genuine claimants don’t understand the complex system.

Despite promising the portal would eliminate the need for lawyers, around 90% of users still instruct one. And even that is becoming harder, with research from our own ‘State of the Market’ survey revealing that half of firms that previously handled low-value RTA claims have stopped doing so.

The portal has made it unsustainable, with 50% of firms reporting a ‘major’ impact on profitability and many exploring other work streams instead. But the knock-on effect of such change is that people seeking a lawyer now find their choice is severely restricted. This at a time when the Competition and Markets Authority is advocating more choice for consumers of legal services, not less.

It is encouraging for the market that most of the firms we spoke to believed they would weather the storm of reform, but at what price to the public?

If ministers are committed to improving the system, now is the time to take stock and address the issues so that vulnerable accident victims are not the ones who end up losing out.”



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