New ABS venture launches with backing from claims group Helphire

Accident claims company Helphire Group has given its backing to a barrister-led alternative business structure specialising in road traffic accidents (RTA).

Cheshire-headquartered Principia Law was launched earlier this month (22 August). The new venture will be headed by former Berryman Lace Mawer (BLM) associate Peter Jerman as managing director and barristers Christopher Perry and Richard Wilcock have been appointed as the firm’s COLP and COFA respectively. Both will also continue to practise out of Palmyra Chambers in Warrington.

Jerman said the joint-venture with Helphire was partly the result of his experience at BLM where he was a defendant solicitor. “The business plan had been there for a while but I needed the right backer. I saw the opportunity so I approached Helphire, shortly after the new ABS regime came into force”, he explained.

The addition of barristers, he added, would provide feedback necessary to analyse the outcome of cases. He commented: “In the past solicitors built the case up and barristers went to court and argued it and the information related to why the case won or lost was never returned to the solicitors”.

The firm is in the process of recruiting but currently has about 25 staff. All the fee-earners are paralegals, the majority of which are qualified to BPTC or LPC standard.

Jerman said that there are plans to expand beyond RTA work but said he was unable to comment further while contractual agreements were still under discussion.

Earlier this month Keystone Law was approved as an ABS and had restructured the firm’s management, enabling non-solicitor Charles Stringer to become a director of the firm in the first instance, with a view to providing auxiliary non-legal professional advice to clients in future (19 August 2013).

Meanwhile, Direct Line Insurance Group has applied for an ABS licence to offer legal services to its customers in partnership with Parabis Law (16 July 2013).