A survey by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed that the UK’s personal injury sector is doing well despite the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). The survey gathered information and opinions from a wide range of relevant sources, including over 250 legal firms operating in the sector, and identified a number of positives.
As well as hundreds of legal firms, the survey questioned the judiciary, regulators, representative bodies, insurance companies, and trade associations. The findings of this survey were recently published, and while there were some areas of potential improvement identified the SRA’s research has suggested that, on the whole, the industry is doing well.
The personal injury sector is in many ways a broad sector. One of the most prevalent examples is claiming compensation for accidents at work, or indeed any injury or illness, that was the result of an employer taking insufficient measures to provide a safe working environment. However, it also includes just about any case where one person has been physically injured and it was the fault of a third party, such as accidents caused by careless driving, or cases where a business has not maintained a safe environment for customers.
In such cases, the injured party is entitled to a financial settlement from the negligent party, both to reimburse any financial costs associated with the injury and to act as compensation. A large part of the personal injury sector is made up of firms that specialise in these claims, or even specific kinds of injury claim such as workplace accidents or traffic accidents.
It was expected to be one of the sectors that was particularly likely to be hit by the 2012 act, specifically by the removal of certain kinds of fees, but the survey suggests that personal injury firms have adapted well to the changing landscape. Overall, the SRA concluded from its research that the sector is “generally working well” in a post-LASPO legal landscape.
The report also suggested that the number of frivolous and outright fraudulent claims is decreasing, though this still remains a concern. This decrease is welcome news for firms operating in the sector as, unlike most other areas of legal practice, fees are often only charged on the success of a claim and as a percentage of the settlement awarded.
The report also suggested that the relationship between legal firms and other relevant companies such as insurers is growing more positive. Among the concerns raised was the possibility that some firms may be diversifying into new areas of personal injury practice without the desirable amount of expertise.