Andrew Castle adverts have fuelled growth

Marketing collective First4Lawyers (F4L) – which last autumn launched a £10m personal injury (PI) advertising campaign – is to open up its panel for the first time as it looks to increase its market share.

F4L said the opportunity showed that smaller firms could still compete in the PI market despite the efforts of larger practices to dominate it.

Having only previously grown through recommendation, F4L is now accepting applications from firms with a turnover in excess of £2.5m.

It said the high-profile TV campaign fronted by sports personality turned TV presenter Andrew Castle has fuelled rapid growth for the business over the last two years.

F4L business development head Chris Rodgers said: “Our decision to open up the panel will benefit those smaller firms that have managed to effectively navigate the legislation changes post-LASPO but want to improve their access to potential clients.

“These firms have proven adaptable and able to provide a service that clients still want, despite the reforms. We see no reason why they should be muscled out of the market because they lack the marketing power of larger practices.

“There remains no shortage of claims out there and the LASPO reforms have not altered the fact that our collective marketing scheme is one of the most effective ways to attract them. We pride ourselves on the service our firms provide to clients – and on the service we provide to both – and this is the right time for like-minded PI professionals to join our ethical and rigorous claims service.”

The news came as Direct Line Group’s annual results showed it received £6.9m in solicitors’ referral fee income until the ban came into force on 1 April. In 2012 Direct Line – which now has an alternative business structure in partnership with Parabis – made £21.1m from referral fees.

The company said its ABS “should help to shield existing customers from potentially excessive third-party solicitor fees”.

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