The Forum of Insurance Lawyers has said it is ‘profoundly saddened’ by a Law Society advertising campaign urging accident victims to seek legal advice.
The campaign portrays a beaten face with the caption ‘don’t get mugged’, telling injured people to speak to a solicitor before accepting a third-party capture offer by their insurer.
Laurence Besemer, chief executive of FOIL, said the Society was not representing all of its members by setting out to offend the client base of a significant section of its membership.
‘There is no problem with the Law Society helping its members to attract clients in challenging times but this is not the way to do it,’ he said.
‘Calling all insurers muggers is hardly a professional response to recent developments. It should be possible to rise above name calling.’
Besemer said neither FOIL nor its members played any part in the design or execution of the £300,000 campaign, which is running for six weeks on radio and on billboards across the country. Insurance lawyers were made aware of its content only when it was about to be signed off by Society leaders.
He added: ‘The UK insurance industry is respected around the world and is one of our country’s most succesful exports. London is widely regarded as the insurance capital of the world. It is in everyone's interests to have a world-leading insurance industry, and describing the industry as "muggers" helps no one.’
A Law Society spokeswoman said it was unsurprising that FOIL did not endorse the campaign, but that it had received excellent feedback from many solicitors and members of the public.
She said: ‘The campaign seeks to reinforce the value of seeking advice from a solicitor. It does so in an intentionally thought-provoking and memorable way.
‘Evidence regarding third-party capture is difficult to obtain, since most of it is held by the insurers themselves. Indeed, without a freedom of information request, the FSA/insurer data referred to would still be hidden from view.’
The row is the latest twist in an escalating war of words between claimant and defendant sectors. Insurance giant Axa yesterday published a report calling for a significant increase in the threshold for whiplash claims, research which the Motor Accident Solicitors Society dismissed as ‘biased’ and out of date.