The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) this week attacked the Lord Chancellor's long-awaited findings on unqualified claims assessors, saying his recommendations would not protect the public.

Last May, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, announced the creation of an investigation team – the Blackwell Committee – to look at the behaviour of unqualified claims assessors.

Presentation of the report, and Lord Irvine's response to it, was finally made this week after a four-month delay.

According to Lord Irvine, the investigating committee found a "lack of current evidence of any measurable public concern about, or a widespread problem with, the activities of non-legally qualified claims assessors".

But the Lord Chancellor's response left Apil "disappointed". Apil president Frances McCarthy, said: "We do not feel it [the report and its findings] has gone far enough. We are disappointed they have not taken the opportunity to regulate unqualified assessors."

McCarthy admitted a lack of evidence had been a problem for the committee, but she pointed out that many consumers did not realise they had been the victims of unprofessional treatment.

She said: "If someone receives £2,000, they may be pleased with that, but in reality it may be that they should have got much more."

However, the Lord Chancellor added a proviso to his response, pointing out that in the next few years, the Access to Justice Act 1999 could alter the landscape of claims assessing.

To counter potential problems, Lord Irvine is considering a range of hypothetical measures he can take should public concern about unprofessional assessors grow.

The measures, which were conceived by the Blackwell Committee, include:

  • Raising public awareness of best practice/minimum standards for advisers
  • Introducing voluntary codes
  • Introducing voluntary self-regulation
  • Banning claims assessor activity
  • Statutory regulation of claims assessors

    Claims Direct, one of the biggest companies in the loss assessing sector, said: "We welcome the publication of the report, including the important distinction it makes between non-legal claims assessors and the ultra-legal system provide by Claims Direct."