A claims business says the transformation of its personal injury division is already yielding positive results - despite profits taking a tumble in the first six months of 2019.

National Accident Helpline Group (NAHL) said today that profit before tax for the period ending 30 June was down 13% to £4.6m. This was largely accounted for by the exceptional £800,000 costs during the period of preparing for small claims reforms coming into force next April. Revenue was up 3.9% to £25.8m during the period.

With the personal injury reforms in mind, the group has launched a new law firm called Law Together in partnership with one of its panel firms, Manchester-based Horwich Cohen Coghlan Solicitors. It is the third joint venture law firm established by NAHL following the creation of Your Law and National Law Partners in 2017 and is scheduled to start operating next month.

Russell Atkinson, chief executive, said the company’s focus is increasingly on taking an economic interest in the whole claim and capturing more value over the long-term. Previously NAHL has operated largely as a claims manager for a list of panel firms who would be supplied with claims, but the company acknowledges its strategy now involves a ‘shifting balance’ of case allocation between panel firms and its legal services business unit. Panel demand has 'remained stable' over the past six months, said the company, with a number of deals agreed that extend beyond April 2020.

Atkinson added: 'As a group, we are pleased with the overall progress made in the first half of the year. The strategic transformation of our PI business continues and the changes put in place are now yielding positive results. 

'Our wholly owned law firm, National Accident Law, has made encouraging progress since its launch in April 2019 and we are continuing to grow the number of enquiries being placed through our legal services business unit.'

The company said it is expects 'challenging' market conditions to persist until the implementation date of PI reforms, which will increase the small claims limit for RTA claims to £5,000 and introduce a set tariff for damages. The NAHL will be re-platformed early next year to prepare for the changes. 

The company also has a critical care division, which increased operating profits by 12.6% to £2.3m, and a residential property department, which experienced an 83.7% fall in operating profit to just £100,000.

An interim dividend of 2.6p per share has been announced, down from 3.2p for the same period in 2018. Shares in the company, which trade on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, fell 7.2% following today's announcement.