The Personal Injury Bar Association (Piba) was set up in March 1995 to represent barristers in England and Wales who specialise in this area of practice.
According to the secretary of the group, Matthias Kelly, one of the reasons why it was set up was because the interests of PI barristers were not being covered by any other Bar association.
Piba is now the third largest Bar association and currently has about 750 members, with Kelly predicting that it will have 1,000 by the end of the year.
He stresses that the group should be distinguished from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), which represents only plaintiffs and whose members are predominantly solicitors. Piba represents the interests of barristers who are instructed to act for both plaintiffs and defendants.
Kelly, of Old Square Chambers, and Piba chair Daniel Brennan QC, of 39 Essex Street, were both recently re-elected to their posts for a further two years. There are also representatives in the regions – Raymond Machell QC for the Northern circuit, Gary Burrell QC for the North Eastern circuit, Jeffrey Burke QC for the Midlands and Oxford circuit and Barry Cotter for the Western circuit.
The association is putting together continuing education programmes and is also involved in responding to the Law Commission's proposals as well as the Green Paper on legal aid.
Kelly says Piba's contention is that "PI litigation makes money for the Government and does not lose it".
Piba also made submissions on the Woolf Inquiry and argued successfully against PI cases being brought under the small claims procedure – "Although the claim in a PI case may produce a relatively small amount of money, it can nevertheless be a complicated one because of the need for medical evidence."
On a less contentious note, the association will shortly be organising joint seminars with Apil on the practical aspects of conditional fees.