SRA denies firms are doing anything wrong
iPads and shopping vouchers are some of the incentives being offered by law firms to encourage car-crash victims to file personal injury claims.
The tablets and Debenhams vouchers are being advertised on the companies’ websites with the victims being asked to complete an online personal injury application form or contact a freephone number.
One law firm is offering the vouchers to anyone who introduces an accident victim to them.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which governs the law firms in England and Wales, said the companies were doing nothing wrong.
Liverpool-based Hampson Hughes is offering customers an iPad 2 if they make a personal injury claim, according to a Mail on Sunday investigation.
The firm is also offering a £1,000 cash advance instead of the iPad. The cash is deducted from the compensation the victim receives, with the company fighting cases on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Alesha Ward, of Hampson Hughes, said: “We give the iPads only when the third party accepts liability. That means the claim is genuine.”
Fellow Liverpool firm, The Paul Rooney Partnership, was offering £400 of shopping vouchers for Debenhams and Boots, or the same amount in cash, to anyone who introduces a personal injury victim to make a claim.
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and chairman of the Transport Select Committee, said: “I am surprised such gifts were even lawful and permitted. It just shows that the whole referral fee system needs to be tightened and reformed.”
Paul Rooney spokesman James Rooney said: “We are not enticing people to make claims, rather we are providing them with a ‘thank you’ for using our service.”
The Law Society, the spokesman for solicitors in England and Wales, has called for a ban on referral fees across the profession.