With solicitors, it’s all me, me, me
(Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh. But articles like the one from the LSG below don’t do anything to dispel such impressions).
The legal profession is unprepared for conflicts of interest in personal injury law that will occur from 2012, the Gazette has been told. Such conflicts could leave PI lawyers open to negligence claims and increase professional indemnity insurance premiums.
The problem arises from the willingness of insurers to ‘capture’ both sides of the same claim. Although this is already a feature of the market, it is likely to be exacerbated by the arrival of alternative business structures.
Think of it as a the full meal deal.
Currently, law firms who act for both claimant and defendant clients refer one, or both, clients to other advisers when a direct conflict is identified.
However, the same insurer can have a role on both sides, and so have a role in calculating quantum. If QATs are used with their current ‘calibrations’ unchanged, claimants may settle for undervalued awards, leaving their legal advisers open to professional negligence claims.
Granted, the Law Society Gazette is a practitioner publication so their lawyer centric focus is to be expected. But it’s still interesting that the article leads with the risk and misfortune that might befall solicitors as a result of their clients suffering from deflated awards, rather than the clients themselves. Surely the focus should be on minimising the risk of undervalued awards being made in the first place because of the injustice to clients. The fact that clients might have a cause of action to sue their precious solicitor should be a secondary point. Aren’t clients the most important party here? You haven’t got to look very far through the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 to find plenty of support for that theory.