How will the PI market look after the Civil Liability Act comes into force in April 2020?


First4LawyersBy Legal Futures’ Associate First4Lawyers

We’ve launched our annual state of the market survey and would love to hear your views on the market, and the upcoming challenges facing the industry. Now in its fourth year, the survey is designed to gauge the challenges facing the personal injury and clinical negligence sector, to build a comprehensive picture of the market.

We’re running it a bit later than usual this year, as we wanted to wait until there was more clarity around the Civil Liability Bill. At the end of November, the Bill overcame its final parliamentary hurdle when the House of Lords approved amendments to the Bill made in the House of Commons without a vote, meaning that it will now head for Royal Assent.

The survey only takes about five minutes to complete. Rest assured it is completely confidential and all answers will be treated anonymously. The results will be analysed and written up on our website early next year.

Competition heats up as firms look to survive government reforms

Last year’s survey results showed that times were tough for claimant personal injury (PI) lawyers, but while many expected substantial consolidation in the market, it was clear back then that competition was becoming fiercer than ever. This hardening competition also extended to clinical negligence work.

Some 42% of PI respondents from last year’s survey revealed that their profits had fallen over 2017, and 43% said staff numbers had gone down too, even though for most firms, turnover had either stayed the same or increased. Nearly half said the costs of doing business had increased, with a third having increased their investment in marketing.

However, most were fairly bullish for the year ahead (2018), with 69% expecting profit, and 76% turnover, to rise – although staff numbers were predicted to either stay the same (58%) or fall (31%). Last year’s respondents were less positive for the claimant market as a whole – most expected an increase in closures, mergers, WIP sales and redundancies.

So how do these predictions compare to the reality? How has your turnover and profit fared in 2018? And what are your expectations for 2019? Do you think you’re most likely to see an increase or decrease in these areas? What will the government’s PI reforms mean for your practice? Very little? Or are you planning on doing as much as you can before the new regime comes in, but then close down the firm / department? How do you predict claimants will respond to the higher small claims limit and new portal? One thing is for sure, 2019 is set to be another challenging year for the PI industry. Make sure you have your say in what may lie ahead.

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