The consolidation of the low-value personal injury (PI) market stepped up today after Minster Law acquired Irwin Mitchell’s fast-track book and future cases too.
The Yorkshire-based firm, which currently settles around 4,000 cases each month, is taking on around 25,000 existing cases.
Irwin Mitchell will refer any new fast-track road traffic accident, employer liability and public liability claims it receives as well, amounting to around 6,500 cases a year.
The deal follows Irwin Mitchell’s strategic decision to focus on serious injury cases in the wake of the whiplash reforms which were implemented on 31 May.
Four partners and over 80 staff are moving from its Sheffield and Leeds offices to Minster Law’s base in Wakefield, which will have nearly 600 staff as a result.
Matt Currie, currently head of Irwin Mitchell’s volume personal injury department, will join Minster Law’s executive management team and board as chief legal officer.
Minster Law’s stated ambition is become the pre-eminent provider of legal services to insurers and their policyholders – in the summer, it was appointed as motor legal service provider to both LV= and esure.
Minster Law chief executive Shirley Woolham said: “It was widely predicted that the whiplash reforms would lead to consolidation in personal injury, and I have previously said that Minster Law intended to acquire books of business where they add value and meet our longer-term strategic aims.
“With this consolidation deal, Minster Law further cements our position at the heart of the PI sector, and supports our strategy to lead consolidation in the market.
“We are a well-capitalised, debt-free firm with the firepower to make further acquisitions where they fit our strategy.”
Ms Woolham said both Minster and its corporate owner – BHL, which also owns comparethemarket.com – were “very cash rich” and able to fund more deals.
Craig Marshall, Irwin Mitchell’s chief operating officer, said fast-track PI work represented “a small part” of its business.
“As a full service legal and financial services firm, we will continue to focus on helping clients who have complex personal and business issues including those suffering serious injuries, workplace illness and injury and medical negligence, as well as growing our business and private client teams.
“This agreement protects both our clients and colleagues in the fast-track PI area of our business.”