Fraser Whitehead, Russell, Jones & Walker
Whitehead disagreed with earlier comments about proportionality: "I do not accept that the costs are disproportionate". However, "costs should be related to the value of damages, and as a claimant lawyer, which
I am proud to be, I do believe very sincerely that damages for personal injury in the UK are not as high as they ought to be, and we have to bear that in mind".
Whitehead placed the responsibility for referral fees squarely at the feet of insurers:
"If you want to cure referral fees, the industry really has to start in its own back yard.
He strongly advocated focusing on claimants: "We need to focus on the injured person, and the injured person's needs, and not necessarily lawyer's needs or insurers' needs, or indeed health professionals' needs".
Whitehead did not agree that there were obvious parallels with the Irish situation. He quoted a recent article "that suggested that only 50% of the people who used to be claiming are now claiming under this system... what we have got in the Irish system is a possibility that large numbers of people are just dropping out of the system, which is not in my view an acceptable principle. We must not sacrifice legal rights in this situation."
Whitehead championed the benefits of Claimsense, a new system that is based on "the principles of best practice".
Claimsense has been designed as a system that "anyone can use... any law firm can use it, any liability insurer, any health professional who wants to channel cases, is able to refer cases through it.".
The system "takes the lawyers and the insurers out of the process and puts them at the side, enabling them to benefit from the process, without actually controlling it."
Claimsense has six stages:
Its fundamental objective is "to resolve personal injury claims within three to six months," for "straightforward personal injury claims".