In addition to the government's attempts to reverse the Barker ruling, there has also been debate over proposed exceptions to the rules on claims management companies (CMCs)

In recent weeks the political arguments have focused on the government's proposals to exempt charities and trade unions from the CMC regulations.

These exemptions have not gone unnoticed by opposition parties. Oliver Heald, shadow secretary for constutional affairs, said: "One of the largest groups of claims farmers are trade unions, which make their money from referrals to solicitors-often at about £500 per referral-and take money from damages in some cases."

Heald has challenged Bridget Prentice, the minister leading the Bill through parliament, in the House of Commons over the exemption.

"Many unions do an excellent job, but does [Prentice] agree that for trade unions to be completely unregulated in this field, while she is saying the commercial sector should be completely regulated, is nonsense," he said recently.

There is a fear that rogue CMCs could re-emerge a year on disguised as a charity or company trade union.

Prentice did not agree. The Bill, she says, gives the new regulator the power to force rules on charities or trade unions which are blatantly flouting the existing regulations.

It is also worth noting that it is very tough for companies to meet the legal requirements necessary to become a charity.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs has written to all stakeholders asking for opinions on the secondary legislation that will provide the more detailed regulation that CMC will have to work under. Responses are due in by 29 August.

"We will then consider the responses and, if necessary, make amendments to the final draft regulations before they are laid out in parliament in the autumn," the letter says.