The former chief executive of NAHL Group has joined innovative claims management company Call Brian as its chairman.
Russell Atkinson left the company  behind National Accident Helpline – where he led its transformation from a pure marketing business to a legal services provider – last September.
He told Legal Futures that he left on “good terms”. He explained: “I’d done my eight years, six as CEO. The board, chair and I decided that, having got them to that point, maybe a new start was required.”
He has now been appointed to spearhead Telford-based Call Brian’s strategic growth. The company offers an automated system for sub-£5,000 road traffic accident claims set up by Claims Direct co-founder Tony Sullman.
The system offers other firms a way to continue making money from these claims now the whiplash reforms have come into force by referring them to Call Brian.
Users are charged 25% of their damages under a conditional fee agreement for the service, while Yorkshire law firm Heptonstalls provides  any personal advice required and handles cases that fall out of the current or future portal. It shares costs 50/50 with the referring firm.
The system automatically carries out ID checks, prepares retainer documentation, sends automatic chaser messages to clients, and schedules medical appointments through MedCo.
It says it allows claimants to submit a claim in just seven minutes. A triage nurse is assigned to each case.
Call Brian also provides car replacement, car repairs and medical services, including mental and physical health checks and support such as private physiotherapy to counselling. It also covers clients’ insurance excess.
Mr Sullman is a controversial figure in the personal injury market, having been disqualified as a director in 2009 for seven years for his role at Claims Direct.
“I had a good look at what had happened and felt what he is trying to do is the right thing,” Mr Atkinson said. “I did my due diligence and felt it wasn’t an issue.”
Call Brian will start an advertising campaign next month and he said “we’ve had good feedback from law firms who want to work with us. Unusual times call for unusual models”.
He predicted that only the largest firms that have been able to invest in automation would be able to handle low-value road traffic claims.
“How can a lawyer now make money out of a RTA PI claim unless they’re really, really efficient?” he asked. “Many firms are not designed on that basis.”
The company is called ‘CallBrian’ because Brian was the only one-syllable name attached to the word ‘Call’ that Mr Sullman could find where the .co and .com domain names were still available.