NEWS

The Impact of the Fixed Costs Regime

It has recently been reported that the number of Professional Negligence claims against law firms in the High Court has almost tripled in a year.

Many of these claims involve property and conveyancing disputes as claimants rush to try to get redress, within the stated time limit, for the property losses following the 2008 financial crisis.

However, I am seeing the same effect in the personal injury market with more professional negligence claims coming through our doors every month which is not surprising with the significant reductions in fixed costs causing some personal injury firms to conduct litigation on the cheap.

Whilst it is tempting for some firms to respond to lower costs by using under-qualified or insufficiently experienced staff, this in our view is a false saving as it can lead to cases being mishandled. Some of the more common complaints that I receive from claimants are that their claims were not properly investigated leading to premature or inadequate settlement or that critical time limits were missed.

In my view the firms that will thrive in this lower fixed cost regime are those that have the confidence to use appropriately experienced personnel to run cases and with the systems in place to make sure that all cases are dealt with in the most efficient and timely manner whilst understanding the issues involved and recognising that every case is different and will not conform to a "one size fits all" process.

Steve Ireland, Partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors