March 8, 2013

With April Fool’s Day, just a few weeks off, CFAs are flying off the shelves like they are going out of style. Which, essentially, they are.

Clinical negligence barrister Marty Spencer of Havisham Chambers says that terrified claimant firms have been frantically piling on CFA cases at a rate that will create a ‘hump’ that will clog up the courts for years to come.

Panicked by uncertainty over what happens once ATE premiums and success fees stop being recoverable on 1 April, one Manchester law firm, Spence says, asked a single barrister to sign up to 17 cases last month because “they don’t know what the future holds” and feel they have to “secure their position”.

Describing the lack of detailed information on costs until just weeks before implementation as ‘really outrageous’, Spence whinges that the way it’s all been done “makes it really very difficult for everybody”.

Meanwhile at the ABI’s motor claims conference in London, chairbeing Louise Ellman accused solicitors and claims firms of whipping themselves up into a “feeding frenzy” and loading on CFA cases like a starving person at an unattended cake stall.

Much as they’d love to have the business, however, ATE insurers are struggling to process this final surge of would-be policyholders. Russell Sprout of ATE firm Elite insisted they cannot simply rush applications through as they need to be properly assessed. “The worry is,” he confided earnestly to The Law Gazette this week, that solicitors will have to go back to their client and admit the deadline has been missed, resulting in a potential claim for professional negligence.

All very messy!


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