Online road traffic offences pioneer to launch private client service

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14 March 2017

Langan: blended service

A solicitor and online legal services pioneer who developed the first automated system for clients to send briefs to counsel, is launching a private client service this summer that “enables people to pick and choose the legal services they need and want to pay for”.

Martin Langan, owner of Road Traffic Representation (RTR), said further services for personal injury claimants and family law clients would follow next year.

He told Legal Futures that RTR had helped over 5,000 people with road traffic offences since its launch in 2011. The service aims to replicate online the process clients go through with their solicitors, offering them a free diagnosis of likely penalties, paid-for services such as model mitigation letters and a helpline, and even the ability to instruct counsel automatically.

He said the private client service would build on the approach taken by RTR, and be offered through Mr Langan’s law firm, Legal Matters. It aims to help clients create wills, powers of attorney or certain kinds of trust.

“It’s a blend of doing the tasks lawyers don’t need to do, and providing people with helpful, friendly and trusted advice,” Mr Langan said.

“The system will do what you program it to do. It analyses each answer and makes decisions based on that. Wills and other documents are assembled on the spot. It may be that the only thing lawyers need to do is to give their approval.”

Mr Langan said all legal work is carried out at fixed prices, and a diagnostic tool determines the kind of will required and fixed price offered.

He said that unlike RTR, the private client service would not be a “linear series of questions and answers” and questions could be answered in any order the client liked.

He said a further service was being planned for personal injury, where there were opportunities for “self-service and assistance on offers” for claims worth up to £25,000.

“Claimants are being deprived of rights they ought to have. Technology gives us an opportunity to try and redress that, and help give people the ability to obtain compensation without giving it all to lawyers.”

In family law cases, where he said the legal aid cuts had left a gap between those who can pay and those whose rights had been taken away, there was scope for a “different form of guided self-help”.

This could include the licensing of legal software to consumers to allow them to complete divorce petitions, applications involving children or financial relief.

Mr Langan said this service would probably need to be provided through a separate company, and would not appear until after personal injury, later in 2018.

In each case Mr Langan said the aim was to enable individuals and families to use technology to drive down legal costs by using lawyers only where they were needed.

“It enables people to pick and choose the legal services they need and want to pay for.”

Mr Langan added that he was “almost disappointed” that RTR had provoked so few competitors and appeared to remain unique in the world of motoring offences.

“Despite the Legal Services Act, by and large law firms are still finding it profitable to operate under existing models.”

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Last month, MPs on the justice select committee asked minister Lord Keen what would happen when the government went ahead with its plan to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims (from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic related claims and to £2,000 for everything else). As it is a jurisdiction in which lawyers do not generally operate – because legal costs are not recoverable – who might help claimants navigate what can still be a complex process? His answer, surprisingly, was claims management companies.

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