Russell Jones & Walker in shock acquisition of Claims Direct

In a dramatic development for the claimant personal injury (PI) field, Claims Direct is to be reborn under new ownership after being bought by national firm Russell Jones & Walker

The second-largest PI firm in the country has bought the brand name, call centre technology, website and telephone numbers of the claims manager, dubbed 'Shames Direct' following complaints from customers over the size of payouts. It will operate under the banner New Claims Direct.

Russell Jones will not be assuming responsibility for any of the existing liabilities or outstanding claims against the company, which plunged into administration last year. In October, administrators Deloitte & Touche revealed that the company had racked up debts of around £50m and is still subject to a number of class action lawsuits from shareholders and franchisees.

Richard Langton, Russell Jones' chairman of the PI department and managing partner of the Birmingham office, is in charge of the project. He told The Lawyer that because of recent court decisions stemming from Callery v Gray, the firm is confident of guaranteeing a free service.

“We believe we can offer a guaranteed free service as we can set the insurance premium at a rate the courts agree is recoverable,” he said.

Russell Jones now faces the difficult task of rebuilding a tarnished brand. It will be up against rival firms that have recently joined together to market their services directly to the public as Injury Lawyers 4U, as well as existing claims management companies, including The Accident Group, which currently boasts a 25 per cent market share.

Langton argued that New Claims Direct will be an ethical service that will rely solely on recommendations and marketing, not on some of the questionable strategies employed by some claims management companies in the past. He said the firm, which previously had no referral relationship with Claims Direct, is already receiving around 100 cases a week.