Telecoms giant seeks to become an ABS
Telecoms giant BT is planning a major incursion into the legal services market after applying to become an alternative business structure, the Gazette can reveal.
BT Claims, a wholly owned subsidiary, applied last week to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a licence to become an ABS. The nationwide claims management service currently deals largely with legal issues relating to the UK fleet of BT vehicles. But it is understood talks have already begun to expand the client base for other corporations with similar backgrounds that have large vehicle fleets.
If it gets approval, BT will be one of the biggest new entrants to the legal sector following the liberalisation of the market through the full implementation of the Legal Services Act. A spokesman for BT Claims said: ‘The initial focus will be on handling motor claims and litigation, which may be transferable to other sectors. It is about getting claims settled quickly and for the right price rather than stringing things out.’ He would not divulge any further details at this stage.
The current legal team, headed by long-serving in-house solicitor Miles Jobling, has 20 members of staff, most of whom are solicitors. They work from a base in Sheffield, where there is capacity for a significant increase in staff numbers depending on demand.
The BT Claims company was incorporated in 2008 and remained dormant until it commenced trading on 1 May 2010. Figures for the first 10 months showed pre-tax losses of £69,000, reflecting BT’s low-key move into the sector. That involvement has since increased. BT Claims now says it provides a complete, nationwide motor claims management service to over 35,000 corporate fleet vehicles. It handles around 4,000 at-fault accident damage and personal injury claims annually with an average liability value exceeding £5m, and around 3,000 non-fault loss recovery claims with an annual recovered value of over £2.5m.
On its website, BT Claims promotes the efficacy of its third-party capture programme, stating: ‘Early capture of the third party in client at-fault claims can result in a substantial saving on the overall claim cost to the client.
‘We have developed a service to supplement our motor claims capability that is aimed at capturing the third party at the earliest possible point and then managing all aspects of the claim against the client.’
- Personal injury firms will become takeover targets as claims managers and brokers prepare for the referral fee ban, according to a report published this week by Deloitte.