Law Soc to stop ambulance chasers

THE LAW Society's ruling council is to meet in secret this week to debate a controversial plan to banish ambulance chasing from the profession.

Under proposals to tighten up the society's introduction and referral code, solicitors will be banned from making payments to third parties in return for clients.

The Law Society committee, which has drawn up the plans, admits that many solicitors would be likely to lose business as a result of the changes.

The proposals were drawn up in response to a clamour from the profession for the rules to be tightened up following a consultation exercise conducted by the Law Society last year.

Seventy-three per cent of the 1,132 respondents said solicitors should not be allowed to pay for referrals and 64 per cent said the society's current introduction and referral code was too lax.

Many of the respondents said the proliferation of marketing schemes – such as the selling-on of names of people who have had accidents to solicitors – damaged the reputation of the profession.

They said solicitors should win clients through their reputation, rather than their ability or willingness to pay for referrals.

The Law Society's new draft rules only permit what is defined as “genuine” marketing schemes, such as the society's own Accident Line Protect scheme, where any referrals that do take place are “subsidiary” to the main purpose of the scheme.

A Law Society source said: “The problem is how to distinguish schemes such as Accident Line Protect with other more suspect ones.”

But Raymond Donn, of Manchester personal injury firm Donns, said the rules should be relaxed.

“Many people don't receive legal help when they should. If you tighten up the rules, even fewer will get help.”