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The latest round of ABS approvals has seen a motor claims specialist with an in-house law firm, a £15m national firm and a costs specialist all gain licences.
Paul Shenton of Just Costs
Outsourcing motor insurance claims specialist Vamco claims to be the first in its sector to operate its own in-house firm after its subsidiary Kingsley Law was granted ABS status.
Vamco managing director Tony Rand said his company can now offer an integrated outsourcing service covering every aspect of a claim - from first contact to final settlement - under the protection of an SRA-regulated business.
He said: “This marks a very important development for us. Our accident management skills are a perfect fit with the litigation expertise of Kingsley Law, and we believe we’re the UK’s first outsourced claims company to offer such a comprehensive service.”
The business model shares similarities with that of North East road traffic accident group Winns (4 February 2013).
Rudd explained that the company wanted to move away from the conventional model of solicitor panels, saying it was “inefficient, time consuming and delivered poor quality results to clients”.
Vamco decided to buy in a legal capability rather than build its own and acquired Kingsley Law because it had sent the firm much of its legal work anyway.
Rudd said its new model means fee-earner responsibilities will not be given to “inexperienced paralegals or overseas claim handlers”.
Leeds-headquartered Simpson Millar has also announced that it has been granted an ABS licence and that the firm is planning “further expansion” of its 10-office national network.
The £15.5m turnover firm grew by almost 20 per cent last year and operations director Craig Jones said the firm will now look at “integrating other business types”.
Managing parter Peter Watson pinpointed working more closely with institutional introducers of work, such as trade unions.
Meanwhile, Just Costs Solicitors, which was set up in 2006 by former Eversheds costs partner Paul Shenton (19 October 2009), has also been granted a licence.
The business was previously a legal disciplinary practice and has grown from a handful of staff to 90 employees including 55 fee-earners based across offices in Manchester, London and Chesterfield. It had instructions from 300 firms last year.
Shenton said the recovery of costs is “critical” to firms, particularly in the personal injury sector and that his firm needs to seize on opportunities for work thrown up by an unstable sector.
He said: “We’re not immune to the Jackson reforms. We need to take up more space just to stand still. The ABS provides us the flexibility to move and change going forward.
“External investment remains an option. You’ve got to be nimble of foot rather than restrained by historical convention.”
Shenton said Just Costs will also look to create relationships with after-the-event insurers, claims management companies and other work providers.
The number of ABS licences is now up to 81 after Sai-Donne, Integrity Legal, Bobby Dhanjal Legal Services and Greenlight Legal were all approved today.