Saved legal costs will be invested into rehabilitation

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) has launched a pilot project aimed a slashing legal costs in personal injury claims.

The scheme, R&SA Care, aims to bypass lawyers and get claimants into rehabilitation as soon as possible after an injury.

Potential claimants will be contacted when the insurer first learns of the injury, rather than waiting for the personal injury claim to be filed by a lawyer.

The pilot is being tested on motor, employers' liability and professional liability. It will run until the end of the year, during which time R&SA expects to handle between 5,000 and 6,000 claims.

R&SA technical claims manager, Steve Maddock said: "We will look at how much of the 40p in every £1 which goes to the lawyer in personal injury cases can be reduced. The money that is saved will be used to fund R&SA Care."

Maddock said R&SA had deliberately moved away from working within the confines of the personal injury system, although it would continue to contribute to ongoing debates.

But, former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), Colin Ettinger said he had serious doubts about the scheme, which could leave claimants at a "disadvantage".

"People need legal assistance from the point of entry," he said. "The system is sufficiently complicated that anyone could do with legal advice. This is not a criticism of insurers, but they are there to look after their shareholder not the client. This is a huge conflict of interest."

Apil rebukes ABI (again)
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has stepped up its campaign against the ABI's proposals to reform the compensation system.

Angered by the ABI's attempt to remove lawyers from small-end claims, Apil has consistently rebuked the ABI's proposals since they were announced in December.

Proposals to include lawyers in the compensation process only to sign off the deal struck between insurers and claimants have been rejected by Apil.

Today president, Richard Langton, will tell delegates at its annual conference that insurers failing to comply with the Civil Procedure Rules on admissions of liability should face "meaningful sanctions".