National Accident Helpline (NAH) and seven personal injury law firms, including Irwin Mitchell, are launching an Ethical Marketing Charter today.
Firms signing up to the charter stand against nuisance marketing, the unethical buying and selling of accident data and misleading advertising.
The initiative comes against a background of widespread concern about nuisance calls and texting, and the government’s announcement of a “fundamental review” of claims management companies (CMCs).
Along with Irwin Mitchell, the law firms who have signed up are Hodge Jones & Allen, Lester Aldridge, Colemans-ctts, Emsleys and hlw Keeble Hawson.
Consumers will be able to report breaches of the charter’s principles to NAH, which will administer the scheme and “facilitate a resolution between the signatory and the consumer” or report the firm to the relevant regulator.
Russell Atkinson, chief executive of NAH, said the company believed it was “time for the industry to take a proactive approach to stamping out bad practice and to provide greater protection” for consumers.
“We all recognise that marketing in a responsible, ethical way is best practice and this charter will help to ensure that it’s the only viable way for those working in the personal injury sector to approach consumers.”
A spokesman for NAH added that the personal injury sector was “frequently singled out” for cold calling potential clients, spam texts and emails, and blamed for rising insurance premiums and fraud.
“Rogue players in the sector are tarnishing the reputation of ethical and professional personal injury businesses and reducing consumer trust. This can adversely affect access to justice for genuine personal injury victims and ethical companies need to take action.”
Kevin Roussel, head of the Claims Management Regulation Unit at the Ministry of Justice, welcomed the move and said the unit had been working hard to ensure that CMCs behave in an “ethical and responsible” manner.
“Any steps by the industry itself that may help improve practices and raise standards are to be welcomed. Bad conduct plagues the reputation of the claims management sector and all CMCs should commit to stamping out bad practice.”
The move was also backed by Jonathan Wheeler, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and Simon Tunnicliffe, head of CMCs at the Legal Ombudsman.