Top-20 firm Irwin Mitchell has today announced a joint venture with stock exchange-listed motor insurer esure under a new alternative business structure.
The two businesses will create a dedicated team based in Sheffield providing legal representation for customers of esure who have been injured in accidents where another party was at fault.
The new venture, IMe Law Limited, has been licensed as an ABS by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Irwin Mitchell Group chief executive Andrew Tucker said the two firms already have a long-standing relationship and this venture will ensure it can continue.
He added: ‘Establishing this ABS is an innovative structure in keeping with the changing legal market.
‘It again demonstrates our determination as a business to be at the forefront of the developing legal sector and also our continued commitment to this type of work and in ensuring clients continue to get the best possible outcomes.’
Irwin Mitchell has been the single most-active creator of ABSs since the new regime came in to force.
It currently operates five structures within the group: Ascent Collections Ltd, which offers field agency and debt collection services; Coris UK Ltd, which offers international assistance and insurance claims handling services; Irwin Mitchell Trustees Ltd, which accepts appointments as trustee, executor and estate administrators; and Irwin Mitchell Trust Corporation Ltd, which accepts appointments to act as deputy in the Court of Protection cases.
Link-ups between law firms and insurers have been a prominent feature of the claims industry since the banning of referral fees in personal injury cases in April 2013.
According to its half-yearly report for 2014, esure made £3.3m from referral fee income in the first quarter of 2013 – the last period before the receipt of fees was banned.
Since then, Lyons Davidson has joined with Admiral, NewLaw has made a five-year agreement with Ageas and Direct Line has announced it is working with Parabis Law.
Insurers Allianz and the AA have also moved into providing legal services.