Personal injury solicitors will have to ditch ‘100% compensation’ offers if they want to run a profitable business in future, the Law Society’s chief executive Desmond Hudson told members today.
In an address to members, Hudson said he was ‘angry’ the government had ignored pleas not to significantly reduce fixed costs for RTA work.
Last week the justice secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that fees for low-value claims will be capped at £500, a reduction of £700, from the end of April. The High Court judged the decision lawful in a legal challenge from claimant groups.
Speaking at the first of a series of roadshows to help firms plan for the future, Hudson said the situation was ‘serious’ for the 20,000 solicitors involved in RTA litigation.
To stay in business, he said, practices will have to start deducting from clients’ awards through damages-based agreements. 'The work you do is of value and you’re entitled to be paid a reasonable amount for it,’ he said. ‘It will mean the days in which a claimant will see 100% of damages paid are over. The profession will have to be paid to make a reasonable return.’
Hudson admitted the Law Society and the profession in general had to do more to put forward the case for solicitors. ‘Many bodies have lobbied vigorously to oppose or mitigate aspects of their reforms But the government has proceeded to implement its proposals with only minor changes.
‘On behalf of the profession, I’m angry. Angry that insurers’ advice to government seems to go unchallenged. Angry that many solicitors who work hard for their clients are going to struggle – some firms will undoubtedly fold. But I am most angry that in all the spurious talk about fraudulent claims, many innocent victims with real, debilitating injuries will lose out.
‘They will not get the redress they deserve; the individuals and companies at fault will have fewer incentives to correct their behaviour,’ he said.
‘However, anger isn’t enough. We must explain better the role of solicitors, to evidence the value we add, to our clients, to society, to justice. We will redouble our efforts to engage with government and parliamentarians, and with others who influence policy.’