Legal process outsourcing (LPO) has taken a further step forward in England and Wales with a trio of announce-ments – two of which are aimed at the personal injury (PI) market.
Both PI initiatives are particularly aimed at helping insurers and brokers handle “low value, low treatment” claims before they progress into a legal process, which could fuel controversy around third-party capture/assistance. They also show that LPO is not just a tool for lawyers and Legal Futures understands that some other big-name outsourcing providers are also eyeing up the PI market in this way.
Though they are open to law firms looking to outsource the low-level processing of their claims work, the models of both Sentinel Alliance and Judicata primarily involve a preliminary triage of claims “captured” by insurers (such as passengers in an insured’s car), including an initial medical assessment which falls short of a standard medical report. They would then seek to process cases that have a low value and low treatment requirements, and pass on to panel law firms those cases which require a stronger legal input.
Sentinel Alliance is part of ABStract Legal Holdings – the group behind claims management marketing company Accident Advice Helpline – which recently also bought fast-track claims system e-settle. The company said the goal is to grow ABStract Legal Holdings into a market leader in cost-effective personal injury motor claims settlements. Sentinel could also deal with claims sourced by Accident Advice Helpline.
Managing director Darren Werth said: “With alternative business structures around the corner and the changes currently taking place following Lord Justice Jackson and Lord Young’s reviews, we have decided to embrace these changes and launch our proven system to the sector.
“We have demonstrated in a pilot over the last 12 months that substantial cost savings can be achieved on top of the current savings made by the [Ministry of Justice’s claims] portal without detriment to the claimant and the legal advice they may need. We have shown that our third-party assistance scheme delivers real efficiency to the market.”
Mr Werth added: “We’re looking for the claimant to get the same result [as now] but perhaps get it quicker… Does every cases need the same level of legal input? Probably not.”
Judicata, which is privately backed, aims to provide insurers, brokers and law firms with the ability to process basic PI claims “at the lowest possible price without undermining access to justice or the legal advice currently available to a claimant”. It has been working with well-known medical reporting company Premex to develop its initial medical assessment tool.
A pilot with a number of law firms had already demonstrated “significant cost savings”, the company said, and it is currently in discussions with insurers to test the process further.
Managing director Paul Hinchliffe said: “LPO is not new but we believe a service of this kind for personal injury cases will ultimately provide even more significant cost savings when processing basic personal injury claims. Our use of technology and the latest medical screening processes ensures that the consumer is given the most appropriate legal advice and assessment but at a cost that is proportionate to each individual case.”
Meanwhile, the groundbreaking Managed Legal Service launched by City firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has entered into a framework agreement to establish its first pan-European partnership. This follows the launch of the service earlier this year with Thames Water as its first client.
Under the arrangement, BLP has taken over on an exclusive basis the management of all employment law services to Colt, Europe’s leading information delivery platform.
Robin Saphra, group general counsel at Colt, said: “The BLP Managed Legal Service will deliver an elegant solution for managing employment law advice across Colt’s European businesses, ensuring that it receives consistently high-quality legal services, managing risk whilst controlling cost and ensuring value for money. This service breaks new ground in how a business like ours works with its professional service providers.”
BLP managing partner Neville Eisenberg said: “The Managed Legal Service will create long-term partnerships with clients, aligning our interests with theirs so that we become more actively involved in improving business processes and reducing inefficiencies. At a time when businesses are struggling to manage increased regulation and during a tough economic climate, this is a good way for clients to ensure they have access to the best expertise and advice available whilst achieving cost savings at the same time.”