‘The calm before the storm?’ – What to look out for in personal injury and clinical negligence in 2020.
By Philip Pipkin, Underwriting Support Manager
(Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 31 seconds)
2019 was dominated by the ‘B’ word and, from political and regulatory perspective, everything else had to wait. Was it the ‘calm before the storm’? What will 2020 bring for personal injury and clinical negligence litigators – and what plans do you have in place to ensure you have a successful year?
The start of a New Year gives people a chance to reflect and plan for the year ahead. As a manager at a leading After-The-Event insurer, reflecting and planning are key to running a successful business. Below is some food for thought on the big topics for the coming year.
Is impending doom looming for RTA fast track personal injury lawyers with the whiplash reforms set for April 2020? If you are a specialist in this area have you planned what effect this is going to have on your business model? There is the possibility for delay, but we can’t avoid the fact – it is going to happen. I would find it hard to believe that plans haven’t already been put in place by personal injury law firms for this and with very few, if any, exceptions doubt that a firm can rely solely on this area of work.
With funds available for disbursements becoming more and more restricted, for some firms the increasing need for alternative funding is on the rise. How are you dealing with this issue? Keeping the burden on your overdraft cannot be acceptable. Temple can help your clients afford the cost of their litigation with disbursement funding, and at a very low interest rate. Solicitors pride themselves on being innovative when it comes to funding therefore addressing this for 2020 should be a high priority for you.
Another challenge is the MOJ’s plans to introduce fixed costs to clinical negligence claims. These proposals could particularly hurt small law firms.
- The changes could also bring an increased risk of professional negligence claims from clients due to under settlement of claims being made as this new financial pressure bites.
- Elsewhere, are clinical negligence lawyers prepared for yet another significant legal challenge to ATE insurance premiums that, if successful, could well restrict access to justice even further?
- Will there be a flood of clinical negligence cases to solicitors in advance of the changes?
- In due course will individuals who have suffered medical accidents have to pursue their complex clinical negligence case without solicitor support?
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be another challenge that only the most adaptable and innovative solicitors and their ATE insurance providers will be able to overcome.
The human element
Technology is making headlines in terms of reducing costs and perceived service advantages, but I am still very much of the opinion that a client who has been through a traumatic experience would much rather talk to a human being than a robot. Lawyers are there for the big moments in their client’s lives; your soft skills are as important as your technical legal skills – keep them both ‘tip-top’.
The impact on the legal sector of Brexit has not been too significant, according to TheCityUK’s report with legal sector revenues growing steadily by 6% in 2018*. As mentioned in the introduction, it kept the previous Government occupied and distracted from the law reforms likely take place in 2020.
Law firms more likely to be affected by Brexit are those with a large overseas client base. Will those existing clients return to their native countries? Will Brexit see a decline in immigration to the UK? Overall the delays in regulatory changes resulting from the Brexit hiatus has probably been a blessing in disguise for personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers – but that is soon to end.
* (source https://www.thecityuk.com/news/uk-legal-sector-shows-strong-growth-driven-by-record-exports-regions-nations-and-lawtech)
2020 is certainly going to be a challenge and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to continue to work closely to understand the needs of Temple’s customer law firms and adapt appropriately, in order to continue a partnership striving for access to justice for our mutual clients.
Our aim is to continue providing you and your clients with the best litigation insurance at a competitive price, backed by a first-class service. What are your professional New Year’s resolutions and predictions? To share your views please get in touch via email to Philip.Pipkin@temple-legal.co.uk or call 01483 514417.