US firm in ABS first as PI mediation service and major council legal team also licenced

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By Legal Futures

1 April 2015


Car crash: mediating claimants can seek advice of ABS if they want

Car crash: mediating claimants can seek advice of ABS if they want

A personal injury claims mediation business, an American law firm and one of the largest local authority shared legal services in the country are among the latest alternative business structures (ABSs) to be licensed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

InterResolve has been mediating personal injury claims since 2004, working largely with insurers, and is the latest to form a joint venture ABS with Cardiff-based NewLaw Solicitors, itself an ABS owned by Redde plc.

InterResolve managing director Matt Hodges explained that some insurers were keen to use its services instead of the controversial practice of third-party capture, where insurers try and settle a claim directly with the injured party before they have instructed solicitors.

InterResolve currently issues around 500 offers to mediate a month to unrepresented claimants; where they agree but it turns out that the case is not suitable for the service – either because it is too small or too complex – claimants will now be invited to instruct InterResolve Law to take their claim forward in the traditional manner.

Equally if claimants want independent legal advice during the course of a mediation – typically over the valuation of the claim – they will be given the option of InterResolve Law.

Mr Hodges said this gave InterResolve a “broader offering” and as well as the commercial benefits it received from the joint venture, claims would be pursued through the law firm in a manner consistent with InterResolve’s aim of controlling legal costs.

“We needed to find a partner that was naturally aligned with us. NewLaw are,” said Mr Hodges. “They don’t have a reputation for being aggressive litigators.”

Meanwhile, Jenner & Block has become the first US law firm to create an ABS as part of its opening in London later this spring. ABSs are not allowed in the US, but it said the office will be operated by “a local independent affiliate, Jenner & Block London LLP”. Its head of legal practice is dual-qualified Chicago-based partner Timothy J Chorvat.

However, the firm would not explain the rationale for becoming an ABS. Its external PR agency told Legal Futures: “They would prefer at this time not to reply to your questions. The structure they have chosen for their London operations and their relationship with the SRA are not issues about [which] they wish to engage [with] the media currently.”

NB IT SUBSEQUENTLY EMERGED THAT JENNER & BLOCK WAS INCLUDED ON THE ABS REGISTER BY MISTAKE. READ STORY HERE.

Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire county councils have converted their joint in-house legal department, LGSS Law, into an alternative business structure. The ABS goes live today.

Established in 2010, LGSS describes itself as “one of the UK’s largest public sector shared ventures of its kind”, and employs over 1,100 people. It provides a wide range of services to the two county councils and other local authorities and schools, including finance, HR, IT and legal services.

Virginia Moggridge, head of commercial and contracts at LGSS Law, is the head of legal practice. Keith Rudwick, practice manager, is head of finance and administration.

LGSS follows the example of HB Public Law, the shared legal service set up by Harrow and Barnet councils, which became an ABS last year, just after the first local authority ABS, Buckinghamshire Law Plus, which combined legal teams from the county council and Milton Keynes Fire Authority.

Yorkshire law firm LCF Law has also received an ABS licence, and it is converting to limited company status too. It has 95 staff and offices in Bradford, Leeds and Ilkley.

Managing partner Simon Stell said: “This will enable us to stay ahead of the business environment in which we operate as well as providing us with the flexibility of linking with other businesses and professions to add value to clients as well as expanding the range of services we offer.”

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The security of certainty

Michael Wildy Allianz

What are our considerations when looking to buy home or car cover? I would imagine price would certainly be amongst the considerations, but I’m confident that we would each weigh up whether or not our chosen insurer could meet any claims we might bring, and perhaps as importantly, whether they’d provide us with a hassle-free claims process were the worst to happen. Legal expenses insurance should be no different.

December 6th, 2016