A personal injury firm claiming to have the biggest high street presence in the UK has announced up to 13 redundancies.
Forster Dean began consultation with the affected staff members, including 10 solicitors, this week as a direct response to the government’s civil justice reforms.
Industry experts warned it may be the first of many firms that will look to reduce headcount as the PI sector prepares for a series of setbacks.
Chief executive Greg Shields confirmed that the process is ongoing, with a number of people opting for voluntary redundancy.
He said: ‘We will always be idealistic in Forster Dean in fighting to maintain a presence of qualified lawyers in the high street. To succeed we have to be successful as a business and continue to grow.’
The firm, which has 29 offices in the north-west and Midlands, has been one of the biggest critics of plans to increase the small-claims limit and cut fees for low-value RTA claims.
Non-executive director Bill Docherty submitted a freedom of information request in November asking for evidence behind the decision to reduce fixed recoverable costs. The Ministry of Justice has opted to extend the time limit for a reply while it decides whether it would be in the public interest to provide the information requested.
In a letter to justice minister Helen Grant, Shields and Docherty predicted a drop of up to 20% in qualified lawyers across the sector, with a knock-on delay in settling cases and an increase in costs.
Earlier this week, the Association of Personal Injury Solicitors revealed that its own survey of PI firms had found that more than three-quarters were planning staff cuts in 2013.