The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers' vice-president Ian Walker has attacked the newly-formed Richard Grand Society as “elitist” and “self-congratulatory.
The new society for personal injury lawyers includes high-profile medical negligence specialist Rodger Pannone and is modelled on the US inner circle of Advocates.
Members must show 10 years in practice and recovery of at least £5m in a minimum of five personal injury or medical negligence cases, although these requirements can be waived in certain cases.
“I don't think it [the society] is something which should be supported or encouraged,” said Walker, stressing his opinions were his own and nothing to do with Apil.
But the society's founder member, John Cahill, of London firm Stewarts, claimed the group had been misunderstood and stressed the most important criterion was being regarded by colleagues “as of pre-eminence in the world of personal injury”.
Members “will be available to exchange information with each other on a day-to-day basis”, added Cahill, a head and spinal injury specialist.
But Walker said he would not join the society even if he was asked. “Mixed messages are going out about what the entry criteria are and what the group is going to do.
“If they are going to exchange information which will benefit the client then that is great, but it sounds absolutely pointless to me to have a cosy dining club which does nothing for the client or the profession.”
Apil founder Pannone said the society would be formed by “elder statesmen” who could pool their expertise, exchange ideas, and comment on issues such as the Woolf reforms. “If it did turn out to be an elitist club then I wouldn't want to be a member,” he said.
Apil president Caroline Harmer said: “There is a danger the club may be misunderstood, but if a group of very specialised people who deal with the big value cases get together to swap information then that is likely to help the client.”