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When is a non-lawyer a lawyer?

View profile for Peter Cunliffe
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It is, sadly, with some vehemence and annoyance that on the front page of a daily newspaper which I have been reading for over 20 years and whose first edition was in 1785 that I feel compelled to defend the lawyer and the use of the term.

The article, titled 'Public hit by 12m daily nuisance calls from ambulance chasers' contains in its second paragraph the term "ambulance-chasing lawyers". The quote, on page 4 and in the last paragraph of the article is from a complaints handling website.

There are references to claims management companies in the article but never once solicitors or barristers or other members of the legal profession who would and who should use the term lawyer. 

We at Fieldings Porter have nothing to do with those who refer work of this sort, or who charge an 'administration fee' for doing so in order to comply with the ban on referral fees. Our conscience is clear. What does create the cloud above my head as in my first paragraph above is that all solicitors, in particular, as the profession and fully regulated, are included within this derogatory term. The cloud becomes even more grey (as does my hair) when the stated number of calls is from a report prepared by one of the country's leading insurers. The ongoing mantra of the resulting increase in costs of our motor insurance is again repeated - "The cost of car cover will keep rising if nothing is done." Those of us undertaking this work, as I have for over 15 years, know that insurers receive a sum referred to above from either a claims management company or their panel firm of solicitors when they pass the details to a company who agrees to proceed with it. (If you only contact your insurer after an accident how else does your contact number get passed on?) Insurers will also charge you the unnecessary legal expenses insurance cover. The rising cost of insurance as a result of personal injury claims is a myth.

It is as a result of the above that I don't believe the Autumn 2015 budget promise (sic) of the increase in the limit to £5,000 for personal injury claims, thus removing c95% of whiplash claims will come to pass. The insurers will have an income stream removed if it does.

So, whilst there are numerous potential blog posts here, I say do not be taken in by what you read in reports commissioned by the insurance industry. If you want to deal with solicitors who are qualified and regulated lawyers and totally independent of any third party, Fieldings Porter will always be there for you.