One of the country’s leading personal injury specialists has indicated changes in its business a year ahead of government reforms to the sector. NewLaw confirmed last week that it intends to relocate the majority of its Bristol operations to the head office in Cardiff.
Staff were told that consultation would open immediately with the view to restructuring certain parts of the business. It is unknown how many people are affected at the 400-strong firm, or whether the relocation plans will result in any job losses.
In a statement, NewLaw confirmed the changes are related to last week’s announcement by the Ministry of Justice confirming plans to bring forward the Civil Liability Bill and slash fixed damages payments for people injured in road traffic accidents.
The firm, which is owned by listed business Redde PLC, said: 'This is a response to the pending reforms in the personal injury sector and the need for the business to become leaner and more efficient in the post reform environment. The outcome of this process will place NewLaw in the best possible position to focus on delivering its services effectively and efficiently and to support all of its stakeholders.’
Firms with a significant reliance on personal injury work are examining the proposed legislation's impact on returns. The government's own impact assessment estimates that the claimant sector will lose up to £81m a year due to falling numbers of claims and profits on each claim.
Meanwhile, a defendant lawyer has urged the government to address the details of the legislation to ensure there is no scope for ‘wriggle room’ for people making claims.
Ian Davies, a partner at national firm Kennedys, backed the underlying objectives of the bill but said more certainty needs to be included regarding the wording. 'For example, the definition of whiplash includes ‘neck, back or shoulder’ injuries that will be subject to the proposed tariff of claims for injuries of less than two years duration. But does this mean that a minor thumb or wrist injury [will] to sit outside of the tariff?'