A scheme that offers solicitors a “lifeline” by enabling them to continue working with personal injury referrers was launched today by well-known legal IT firm Epoq.
The company, best known for its automated document assembly technology, has created LegalGo, a free legal assistance plan which claims management companies (CMCs) distribute to claimants.
As well as providing consumers with assistance from the law firm with their PI claims, LegalGo also offers free access to a general legal helpline, a selection of online legal document drafting services and referrals for other legal services. The plan is serviced and administered by Epoq.
The CMC signs-up the claimant to the free legal plan via a simple online registration process using the claimant’s contact details. An e-mail is then sent to the claimant enabling them to accept the terms of the plan and contact the law firm directly. The plan is organised so any request for help with a PI claim comes direct from the claimant; the law firm then pays the CMC for telling the client about the law firm.
This does not fall foul of the referral fee ban, which prohibits a third party from providing information about the client to the law firm – a view confirmed by Andrew Hopper QC, who said: “In my opinion there is no doubt that this is not a referral for the purposes of section 56 of LASPO and payment may be made by the law firm to the introducer without offending the statutory prohibition.”
LegalGo is in line with some other post-ban schemes in ensuring that it is the client who passes their details to the law firm, meaning there is no transfer of data from the referrer.
Richard Cohen, solicitor and executive chairman of Epoq, says: “LegalGo offers a much-needed lifeline to personal injury law firms and referrers in light of the recent referral fee ban. Unlike some dubious models that have been marketed to law firms and referrers as a way to subvert the ban through contorted workarounds, LegalGo offers a simple proposition that delivers extra value for claimants and solicitors, and allows both law firms and CMCs to build stronger relationships with claimants by offering a wide range of services.
“It also negates the need for law firms and CMCs to seek new regulatory structures to get around the ban and so allows them to focus on what they do best.”
Mr Cohen argued that in the face of the legal aid cuts, the scheme also gives “thousands of consumers with a legitimate personal injury claim access to much-needed and affordable legal assistance in respect of other legal issues”.