The Consumers' Association has warned solicitors they must inform clients of benefits they receive from suppliers.

The warning comes after Insurance Times readers complained about a letter circulated to personal injury solicitors from Mobile Doctors. It offers solicitors a free place at a conference in a top French ski resort in return for referrals in personal injury cases.

Solicitors earn one point for every referral and have to tot up 500 points to gain a free place at the medico-legal conference in Courchevel.

Principal lawyer at the Consumers Association, Eileen Brennan, said: “It seems like a marketing tool for getting business from solicitors and it could have consequences for the consumer.

“Solicitors should be transparent to their arrangements with third parties so their clients can make an informed choice.”

A Law Society spokeswoman said solicitors' advice to their clients should be independent. “Solicitors are bound by the rules of conduct to act in the best interests of the client,” she said.

“If solicitors receive financial inducements, they have to tell their clients.”

A spokeswoman for the Accident Group, whose panel solicitors participate in the offer, said: “Incentives are commonplace in every industry.”

Accident Group refused to comment on whether their solicitors informed their clients about their choice.

Mobile Doctor's marketing director, Paul Crowther, said it was up to solicitors to tell their clients of any conncections with third parties: “It's their duty to do that if they feel it's necessary,” he said. “But that's nothing to do with me and I can't force them to do it.”

Crowther said the company tried to influence solicitors' decisions by a number of promotional tools. He said the offer of a free place at the conference “is part of our promotion”.