A global outsourcing giant has launched an alternative business structure (ABS) to add legal services to its motor claims business.
WNS Legal Assistance LLP received its ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), effective from 1 July. The ABS’s head of legal practice, Paul Dickie, and its head of finance and administration, Jonathan Bloor, are both partners at East Anglia law firm, Prettys.
The business offers legal claims services to clients from England and Wales from its offices in Manchester. Its website says it provides a “full range of personal injury claims, including those resulting from road traffic accidents, as well as employers’ liability and public liability injury claims.”
Unusually, the SRA decided to keep confidential details of the ABS’s waiver from the separate business rule, save for publishing the fact that a waiver was granted. The regulator said on its public register of licensed bodies that it was “not in the public interest to publish any further information regarding this decision for reasons of confidentiality and in all the circumstances the impact of publication would be disproportionate”.
NYSE-listed WNS (Holdings), a business process outsourcing company that manages some 30,000 people, is headquartered in Mumbai, India, and has corporate offices in the US and the UK. It has nearly 40 delivery centres, including in eastern Europe, China, Australia, Central America, and Africa.
In WNS’s latest annual report, published in May 2015, the company said: “There is an established and continuing trend for our clients in the UK to bundle some of the services ordinarily provided by our auto claims business with legal services. We have made an application to the [SRA] for a license to provide such legal services to our clients.”
It added that if it was unable to obtain the licence:“Our ability to win future business from clients who seek to bundle these services together may be materially and adversely affected, which would in turn have a material and adverse effect on our auto claims business.”
Mr Dickie, a shipping law specialist, qualified as a solicitor with Clifford Chance in 1988 and joined Prettys in 1997. He was the firm’s chief executive from 2006-15. Mr Bloor, a commercial specialist, qualified in 2001 and joined Prettys in 2012.
Asked why details of the waiver were kept confidential, an SRA spokesman would not comment on the specific case, but said: “The most common reason would be that it’s sensitive business information… and that publication of the reasons for granting the waiver would compromise the firm’s financial standing in some way.”
Legal Futures attempted to contact Mr Dickie, Mr Bloor, WNS Holdings and WNS Legal Assistance for comment, but nobody was available.