By: 11 August 2014
Solicitors claim partial victory against Government over medical agency ownership question

A group of claimant firms has won a minor victory in its fight against Government plans to prevent solicitors from owning or having a financial stake in medical reporting agencies.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had planned to introduce a change to the Road Traffic Accident Protocol and Civil Procedure Rules which would have removed a law firm’s right to own or have an interest in an medical reporting agency from October 2014. But a group of firms, led by Express Solicitors and Jefferies Solicitors, had threatened to launch a Judicial Review against the Government’s proposals. The MoJ has now backed down on this aspect of the reforms.

However Ministers have said that they will revisit the issue at some point to coincide with further reform proposals related to personal injury whiplash claims.

James Maxey, managing partner at Express Solicitors, said that he was pleased with the current outcome, which he called a “minor victory”.

“The independence point was the main issue we took up with the Government,” said Maxey.

“All in our group felt very strongly about the independence point being a completely unfair restraint of trading, going right against everything that the Access To Justice Act and the Alternative Business Structure was about.

“We therefore consider that whilst the Government haven’t guaranteed that there won’t be a need for a future fight on this, we have influenced the Government and therefore so far as we are concerned, we feel that this could be chalked up as a minor victory.”

Maxey added that he had arranged through JMW solicitors, the firm the group was using in its action against the Government, to write to the Ministry of Justice in order to make it clear that the group was still opposed to any future similar proposals.

He said that the group echoed the Transport Select Committee’s view that further consultation would – as a minimum – need to be carried out as a pre-cursor to any further proposals for change around the topic of independence for medical agencies.