These are interesting times for the claims management industry. While the abolition of legal aid should have provided ideal conditions for claims management companies to flourish, a combination of factors have dealt a serious blow to consumer confidence.

On top of general concerns that the proliferation of no-win, no-fee advertisements on television seems to signal an inexorable descent towards a US-style compensation culture, damning press coverage - not least concerning the demise of The Accident Group - has contributed to a negative image that the industry must work hard to rebuild.

High time, then, that claims management organisations took the initiative to restore public confidence in the industry by striving to raise standards and to champion the needs of claimants in an ethical and transparent manner.

These are the guiding principles behind the new Claims Standards Association (CSA).

The CSA began life in May 2002 as the Personal Injury Association, but we soon realised the need to broaden its scope to cover the entire claims management industry.

As the only board member representing the corporate claims sector, I am committed to ensuring that the CSA's aims and objectives are adopted and upheld throughout the industry:

  • To reassure the public of the integrity of its members by promoting the highest standards, and ensuring compliance with a strict code of conduct
  • To distinguish clearly between organisations which are members of the association and those which are not
  • To promote access to justice for all, by providing a co-ordinated channel to lobby government on this vital issue
  • To support the Law Society and other partners in helping to influence and shape the law to ensure fair legislation and the protection of individuals' rights.
  • Close working relationships with organisations such as the Law Society, the ABI and the Consumers' Association will help to meet these goals and ensure that consumers receive services of the highest quality.

    Together with the appointment of Nick Phillips (formerly director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) as CSA chairman - in itself a clear illustration of our commitment to securing broad appeal and buy-in - these partnerships establish strong foundations for restoring the professional image of our industry.

    Malcolm Stewart
    Managing director
    Corporate Claims International

    Send letters to: Insurance Times, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6YJ

    or email
    letters@instimes.co.uk or fax 020 7618 3499