The Law Society Gazette, John Hyde, 8th October 2015
The head of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society has urged regulators to punish lawyers found to be getting work from companies cold calling clients.
Chair Sue Brown, addressing the MASS conference today, called for an extension of the ban on unsolicited texts and calls by all in the personal injury sector.
This should, she said, include the SRA taking ‘robust action’ if solicitors are found to be involved.
“If considered necessary, we need to increase penalties and sanctions and have a ’zero tolerance’ policy across the board”, she said.
“Solicitors are not allowed to take on claims generated by cold calls – but clearly some are.”
Brown said MedCo, the new independent body for diagnosing whiplash injuries, should be given time to bed in, and that it was unrealistic to expect any impact on claimants or claim numbers until all accreditation elements are in place.
She urged medical reporting agencies to stop trying to ‘beat the system’ and stack searches in their favour, warning the alternatives to MedCo could be ‘far worse’ for everyone in the claimant sector.
“Medco will have an impact if it is given a chance to work, and, alongside other measures to drive fraudsters and opportunistic claimants out of the system, has the potential to deliver an improved system for both insurers and injured claimants” she added.
Brown said the organisation should lobby for a regular review of fixed fees and warned that it could not be assumed someone will always be willing to deal with claims at any cost.
And she described insurers’ recent calls for a review of damages payments for pain and suffering as ‘misconceived’.
“The law should not treat injured accident victims differently simply because they are suffering whiplash rather than some other injury, and should not be changed to the detriment of honest claimants because of the behaviour of a dishonest minority.”