Personal injury group raises £13.5m to aid international expansion

Gibson: Group is geographically ambitious

A personal injury (PI) group that started life as a law firm in Liverpool has unveiled a £13.5m investment that it will use to expand its PI services in Australia and move into the USA and Dubai.

Simon Gibson, the solicitor chief executive of the Spirant Group, said instead of letting the UK government “kick us out of a sector we were doing so well in”, the Spirant Group would “seek legal systems where the rights of claimants have greater priority”.

The group is made up of Accident Claims Lawyers UK – formerly known as SGI Legal – Accident Claims Lawyers Australia (which launched in 2017), Zeus Tech Solutions, Novus Claims Solutions and InstaMed.

Novus is marketed as ‘a law firm in a box’, providing the paralegal, operational and administrative resources that law firms need to deliver PI services.

Mr Gibson described Novus as a “sub-branch” of ACL UK operating in Australia, while InstaMed provided medico-legal services there.

Zeus offers technology and related consultancy services to the legal, medical and insurance sectors in the UK, USA and Australia.

Spirant has 150 staff and a turnover of over £20m. Another group business is set to open in Australia shortly.

Stephen Murray, director of ACL Lawyers UK, said 40% of its cases were already coming from Australia, a proportion which would rise.

He said that, following the firm’s decision to pull out of low-value RTA cases worth under £5,000, half of the staff involved had been reallocated to other UK PI work but the rest were being retrained to work on cases from overseas.

Mr Gibson said: “It’s been clear to us from about 2016/17 that the government viewed personal injury claims and the lawyers who represented them unsympathetically.

“We didn’t want to give up on the excellent service we had built up and a system which really worked. We were reluctant to let the government kick us out of a sector we were doing so well in.

“We decided to seek legal systems where the rights of claimants have a greater priority – the UK is on its own on this one.”

Mr Gibson said the immediate priority for expansion would be Australia, but the group was “very ambitious geographically” and intended to use its new funding to expand into the US and Dubai, hopefully as soon as next year.

He said that almost all of Spirant’s staff were based in the UK and the intention was to keep the number of staff in Australia “fairly modest”, while scaling up staff at ACL UK and the technology team at Zeus.

“If there’s one thing that being a lawyer in this country is good for, it’s forcing you to embrace technology, take on board efficiencies and innovate in how you deliver legal services.”

He said Spirant had already received enquiries from the USA and Dubai, and their legal systems were “broadly comparable”. This would mean “more jobs and more people” in the UK.

Mr Gibson said around 40 of Spirant’s staff were based at Zeus Tech Solutions, providing solutions for law firms internationally, with a “very significant portfolio” in the UK, including around 50 law firms.

The £13.5m came from UK-based funder BOOST&Co and Australian business growth specialist Providior. In neither case was the funder buying shares or taking part in Spirant’s management.

Mr Gibson said: “At a time when the sector is not viewed favourably here, we’ve got two funders thousands of miles apart, and they want in. It’s very exciting.”

Oliver Reece, a principal at BOOST&Co, added: “The Spirant team have grown the group into a multinational, multi-discipline offering and put in place a solid long-term strategy to deal with a shifting regulatory and financial environment.

“Their ambitious expansion plans make Spirant exactly the type of business BOOST&Co is looking to partner with.”

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