Claimant solicitors will be able to carry out background searches on clients to check for a history of fraud from next month.
This article first appeared in the Law Society Gazette, 27th April 2015
The askCUE personal injury service will go live from 5 May and use of the system will be mandatory from 1 June.
All users, aside from claimant firms handling fewer than 10 cases a year, will have to pay a £110 registration fee, giving an unlimited number of enquiries during a 12-month period. The fee will be payable every year, the Gazette understands.
The scheme is the result of an unprecedented joint project led by the Association of British Insurers, the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS).
Insurers have suggested for many years that fraud is endemic in the claims industry, while claimant firms have countered they cannot separate fraud from valid claims without access to insurers’ records. The hope is that this deal can settle this argument and significantly reduce fraudulent cases.
Catherine Dixon, Law Society chief executive, said: ‘This new system means the legal profession and the insurance industry can crack down on fraudulent claims.
‘The collaboration between lawyers and insurers is a huge step forward showing that we can all work together to achieve a common objective which will benefit consumers.’
Susan Brown, chairman of MASS, said the system was the product of four years’ work and an ‘important first step’ in greater collaboration across the industry.
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, added: ‘The development and delivery of the service is a tangible demonstration of what can be achieved when our sectors work together.
‘There’s plenty that we disagree on, but getting the fraudsters and cheats out of the personal injury claims system is something we all agree on which is why the delivery of askCUE is an important milestone in the ongoing fight against fraud.’
Registration for solicitors is open from next Tuesday and users are encouraged to sign up early to avoid a last-minute rush.
Only approved organisations will be able to use the service, and applicants will be directed to register their organisation through the MIB Services registration portal.
Solicitors can register by either having one account covering all office locations or having a separate account for each office location.
Meanwhile, north-west defendant firm Horwich Farrelly has welcomed a six-year jail sentence handed down to John Smith for his part in a bus crash scam in Chester.
Smith, 42, was the managing director of Chester-based Swift Accident Solutions and was found guilty last month of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. The case involved seven collisions where a car or van deliberately drove into a bus, with 218 bus passengers submitting personal injury claims valued at more than £1m in total.
Ronan McCann, fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly, which represented one of the insurers involved in the case, said: ‘It’s good to see that the judiciary is sending a strong signal to anyone considering making a fraudulent insurance claim with this sentencing.’