The scale of law firms’ dependence on the personal injury market – a sector potentially threatened by imminent government reforms – has been laid bare by new Solicitors Regulation Authority figures. Of the 10,506 law firms operating in England and Wales, 768 are considered to specialise in personal injury work, the regulator says. These are firms to have reported that at least half their turnover was generated from PI work in the past 12 months.
Further analysis shows that PI firms are relatively bigger than other firms, with 49% of specialist practices having annual turnover of more than £500,000, compared with 34% of non-PI firms. PI firms are also more likely to be based in the north-west of England.
The figures were released as part of the SRA’s response to the Insurance Fraud Taskforce from January 2016, which set out a series of recommendations to help reduce fraudulent behaviour in the claims industry.
Their release is timely as the Ministry of Justice last week confirmed it wants to implement reforms of the sector by April 2019. These would impose a tariff system for soft tissue injury compensation and effect a £5,000 small claims limit for RTA claims – effectively excluding solicitors from the vast majority of cases.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care last week announced the establishment of a working group on the implementation of cost caps in clinical negligence cases (see page 2).
The Gazette understands the SRA will not ask firms for any business plans for dealing with the changes, but will continue to monitor the sector.
The SRA also confirmed that the government’s claims management regulator has passed on information about 31 law firms suspected of having improper referral arrangements for securing cases involving holiday sickness. Several of the 31 are already under investigation, the regulator said.