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A new college of personal injury law is to be set up with the aim of improving the quality of public service and on-going training among personal injury lawyers.
The college, to be launched on 5 May, is the latest move by a sector group to introduce quality controls in preparation for the Access to Justice Act and is the biggest project ever undertaken by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil).
Apil chairman Ian Walker says college membership will act as "a kind of kitemark", giving the public "a reference point" and the assurance that they are hiring an experienced practitioner.
To gain membership a lawyer must do a certain number of hours of PI work each year and complete training courses. Walker says the introduction of an independently monitored college is in response to demands by the Lord Chancellor for more recognised quality controls and Apil's desire to develop existing training courses.
"It fits in with the Government's thinking and with what Apil wants to do," he says. "We want to expand [Apil's education programme] hugely."
Apil looked to tertiary institutions for assistance. Walker says: "The College of Law came up with far and away the most imaginative proposal. So with them we are starting up the College of Personal Injury Law."
College membership will allow PI lawyers to demonstrate their level of experience through movement up a five-rung ladder, from associate to member to litigator to fellow and, in a few cases, to senior fellow.