Flight compensation specialist Bott & Co is lining up a “series of similar niches” in the consumer world to capitalise on its successes with aviation.
After two wins at the Court of Appeal with flight compensation cases in two weeks, David Bott, the firm’s senior partner, told Legal Futures he was keen to apply the expertise the firm had built up in IT, processes and client care to other areas.
“There are a host of consumer issues which thousands of people are affected by on a daily basis,” Mr Bott said. “What I’m not going to do is list them.
“Some of the large personal injury firms have decided to chase hourly rate work – catastrophic injuries and clinical negligence. We’re not doing that. This is the route we’re going down.”
Appeal judges ruled last week that the normal limitation period of six years applies to flight compensation cases and the previous week that claims based on technical problems with aircraft could go ahead. The victories have been heavily covered in the media, including in the lead article of last weekend’s Sunday Express.
Best known for its personal injury work, Bott & Co is a limited company and alternative business structure, with three director owners – Mr Bott, managing partner Paul Hinchcliffe and finance manager Gary Froggat. Mr Bott is a former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
The firm announced in April it was going to generate all its work itself, after its ‘profitability calculator’ showed that paying others for public and employer’s liability work would be loss-making.
Mr Bott said the decision to move into new areas of work was made as early as 2012, when the firm saw the implications of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and the new costs regime.
“We looked at what our strategies were,” he went on. “We had always acted primarily for consumers, had a real strength in IT and the benefits of being forward-thinking. We were not the kind of firm Pip visited in Great Expectations.”
Mr Bott said that, given its background in volume road traffic work, the firm looked for niches with volume. Flight compensation was a niche “an inch wide, but a mile deep”.
He said the firm had to take a “very process and IT-driven approach” to flight compensation, as consumers were likely to recover only €600 at the most, and, working under a conditional fee agreement, the firm was unlikely to make more than an average of £90 per case.
Mr Hinchcliffe added that the firm currently had 75 staff, with its flight team handling 14,000 claims. He said that although the firm wanted to “grow staff numbers significantly”, future expansion would be “less about people than about technology”.