By: 2 February 2015
2015 set to be a year of “carnage” in PI market

The Personal Injury market will finally feel the true impact of the Jackson reforms in 2015, according to a panel of experts speaking at a roundtable event organised by first4Lawyers.

The roundtable, which was attended by PI solicitors, along with counsel, costs specialists and medical reporting experts, saw commentators agree that the effects of the LASPO Act of 2013 would come to fruition this year, with one solicitor predicting 12 months of “carnage”.

Ian Pryer, founder of York firm Pryers Solicitors, said that fee-earners in some firms may have been deliberately slower in turning around pre-Jackson cases than they would otherwise have done out of fear of the majority of caseloads moving to the new fee regime.

“The carnage is yet to happen,” said Pryer. “I think it will be two years on from Jackson that firms start falling off, unless their business models have moved on,” he said.

Andrew Simcott, head of business development at Merseyside firm Michael W Halsall, said that historic work-in-progress (WIP) would not last for ever and that the vast majority would probably be depleted within the next 12 months.

“It is essential that firms are able to make their diversification strategies work within in the next 12-18 months in order to avoid failure,” he said.

Speakers at the event also debated the mix of a PI practice between RTA cases and other types of PI. Simon Shaw, partner at SGI Legal, said it was a matter of balancing cash against profit.

“RTAs will generate cash quicker, whereas your non-RTA work will generate a more significant profit. But you need cash to reinvest,” he said.

Richard Powell, joint head of personal injury at JMW, said that about 30% of his department’s caseload was RTA.

“I am starting to hear about some firms that are now turning away EL/PL in favour of RTA because they are actually getting so tight on the finances that they prefer that fast turnaround – it’s their bailout option at the moment,” he said.

First4Lawyers director Qamar Anwar (pictured) said: “The roundtable was a valuable exercise in taking the temperature of the PI market at the moment. It helped confirm our strategy of focusing more on other areas of personal injury than RTA – around a quarter of the cases we pass on are road traffic accidents – and that we have been right to be choosy when selecting firms for our new clinical negligence panel.”