Take note of these names – they are the individuals set to leave their mark on the rapidly changing claims sector this year
With radical reforms in the offing, battles to be won, and lost and new business models on the horizon, the claims sector is in for another interesting ride this year.
Valentine’s day, 14 February, is the hot date when the government’s consultation on the Jackson Review comes to a close. Jackson’s admirers at the Ministry of Justice and among insurers hope his proposals will cut civil litigation costs, saving the NHS and insurers money – and many expect the recommendations will be introduced.
Ready to fight
But Jackson has not won everyone over. Legal expenses insurers, whose business will be severely affected, and lawyers, many of whom will be left out of pocket, have been joined by charities and victims’ groups to argue that the reforms will limit claimants’ access to justice. The next two weeks will see a flurry of data and arguments against the reforms. And even when the consultation paper is published in the spring, some expect a last-ditch challenge.
And who could forget disgraced former enterprise tzar Lord Young? He may have faded from the limelight, but his proposals on claims management companies’ advertising have not.
Every little helps?
October will see the arrival of alternative business structures in accordance with the Legal Expenses Act of 2007, dubbed 'Tesco Law' by critics, which will allow parties other than lawyers to own law firms. This will herald big changes for the claims sector, challenging the traditional relationship between law firms and insurers and the way claims are handled.
Elsewhere, the beleaguered credit hire market is set to see new forms of business models emerging, while the loss adjusting sector will continue to come under pressure to meet changing client demand.
Forces to be reckoned with
So who will be driving the action? As Insurance Times launches its inaugural UK Claims Excellence Awards in May, over the next four days we'll present the key movers and shakers in the claims sector for 2011.
First up, the legal and political figures leading the charge. On Monday we'll post our tips for the top among the insurers, while Tuesday will feature the loss adjusters, and finally Wednesday we'll reveal our picks from the up-and-comers in the sector. Don’t forget to fasten your seat belts…
The Rt Hon. Lord Justice Jackson
Age: 62; years in industry: 2
Who? Jackson was called to the bar in 1972 and appointed a High Court judge in 1999 and Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008. In 2009 he started his controversial review of civil litigation costs. Jackson’s recommendations to scrap after-the-event premiums and instead take lawyers’ fees out of claimants’ compensation have rocked the sector. None of this is new – similar proposals were made by the Ministry of Justice in 2007. The difference is that Jackson’s proposals are, to many observers’ surprise, being taken very seriously by the new government.
Notable achievement: The Jackson Review: at over 1,000 pages it won’t top any bestseller lists, but its potential impact on claims is huge.
Importance in 2011: Jackson continues to rail against civil costs in his judgements. He will remain a loud, and controversial, voice in the claims sector.
Head of strategic litigation, Beachcroft
Age: 51; years in industry: 16
Who? Parker heads Beachcroft’s strategic litigation unit and has been at the forefront of strategic litigation ever since running the leading CFA case of Callery v Gray in 2001-02. In 2009 Parker was appointed to the panel of assessors for Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs.
Notable achievement: Drafting section two and parts of section three of the Compensation Act 2006.
Importance in 2011: Parker will continue to be a dominant figure in the pro-Jackson lobby and a powerful ally for many insurers.
Senior partner of Plexus Law, chief executive of Parabis Group, president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL)
Age: 49; years in industry: 23
Who? Oliver qualified in 1986 and was a solicitor for Berrymans Lace Mawer from 1987 to 2000 before being made partner in 1991. He became partner at Plexus Law/ Parabis Group in 2000. This year Oliver was appointed president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, giving him significant influence.
Notable achievement: Increasing turnover at Plexus Law/Parabis Group from £5m to £50m in 10 years, making it one of the top 10 defendant litigation practices.
Importance in 2011: Oliver will influence reforms stemming from the Jackson review and guide defendant insurance law firms through the Legal Services Act.
Head of policy and public affairs, Thompsons Solicitors
Age: 45; years in industry: 20 years
Who? Jones spent his early career as a personal injury lawyer specializing in repetitive strain injury (RSI) and then stress related injury. In his role in Thompsons, Jones has long been a thorn in the side of many insurers, lobbying alongside trade unions to persuade the last government to amend the Compensation Act – greatly increasing insurer’s exposure to asbestos claims. As one of the most prominent voices in the UK’s largest claimant law firm, Jones is a key influence on developments that shape the claims sector.
Notable achievement: Lobbying successfully to reverse the effect of the House of Lords ruling in the asbestos compensation case of Barker, forcing a change in the Compensation Act 2006.
Importance in 2011: Jones has now thrown his considerable weight behind the anti-Jackson lobby, arguing the case that the reforms will mean a loss of compensation and access to justice for claimants.
Ken Clarke QC MP
Lord Chancellor, secretary of state for justice
Age: 70; years in industry: 0
Who? Clarke was a minister throughout the 18 years of successive Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997. After the Conservative defeat in the 1997 general election Clarke became a backbencher. He has contested the Conservative Party leadership three times—in 1997, 2001 and 2005—and was defeated each time. Conservative leader David Cameron returned Clarke to the shadow cabinet in March 2009 as shadow business secretary. When Cameron became prime minister last year he appointed Clarke as chancellor and justice secretary.
Notable achievement: Rebuilding the British economy as chancellor of the exchequer after the early 1990s recession.
Importance in 2011: As Lord Chancellor, Clarke will have the final say on decisions that could see radical changes ahead for the claims sector.
Mark Prisk MP
Minister for business and enterprise
Age: 48; years in industry: 0
Who? Prisk was elected as the Conservative MP for the constituency of Hertford and Stortford in 2001. He has been promoted from the backbenches to serve at various points as shadow financial secretary, shadow minister for economic affairs, an opposition whip and shadow minister for business and enterprise. Late last year, Prisk was charged with Lord Young’s review of health and safety regulations, following the disgraced former enterprise czar’s resignation.
Notable achievement: Being charged with bringing through reforms outlined in the Lord Young review.
Importance in 2011: Prisk will decide whether to follow Young’s hard line on the advertising strategies of claims management companies, potentially making significant changes to claims farming.
Parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice
Age: 45; years in the industry: 1
Who? Jonathan Djanogly, who is now minister of state for justice under chancellor Ken Clarke, is a lawyer by trade. The 45-year-old rose through the ranks to become a partner at commercial law firm SJ Berwin, where he advised on corporate finance, before replacing former prime minister John Major as MP for Huntingdonshire in 2001. He was shadow solicitor-general for the Conservatives from May 2004 and provided legal advice for the party’s business team.
Notable achievement: Appointed as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice in May 2010
Importance in 2011: Djangoly will be chancellor Ken Clarke’s main adviser on the Jackson review.