Lord Young’s recent report Common Sense, Common Safety explored the perceived ‘compensation culture’ in Britain, which encourages a ‘if there’s a blame, there’s a claim’ mentality in which people are led to believe that they can get financial compensation for even the most minor accident. The report suggests that this places unnecessary burdens on businesses and the voluntary sector, making them take ‘an overzealous approach to applying the health and safety regulations’.
The report identifies the advertising conducted by the claims management companies as one of the major contributing factors to this problem. These advertising campaigns often promote the reward of non-refundable inducements, for example:
“We'll pay you £200 immediately after our solicitors approve your claim”
“As soon as we accept your claim, we promise to give you a £150 cash advance”
Under the current regulations of Client Specific Rule 6(b) of the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2007 these inducements are allowed as they are not offered as an ‘immediate cash payment'. Following recommendations in Lord Young’s report, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is proposing to change this rule so that inducements of any kind are banned from all stages of the process. The MoJ has issued the Claims Management Regulation Consultation Paper outlining its plans to all claims management companies with all responses due by 10 February 2011.
So do the problems in the current system as laid out in the Common Sense, Common Safety report exist? As with anything they will to an extent but as the Consultation Paper points out “the majority of claims management businesses are not likely to be particularly affected.” Therefore is it right to limit the competitive edge that advertising and incentive strategies bring to the industry? In addition, as the money for inducements is not added to the claims cost but instead paid by the solicitors is there really that much of a problem to be solved?
You can read more in Lord Young’s Report and the MoJ’s Consultation Paper. To find out about legal insurance, visit ARAG’s website.