Multi-party firms reach agreement

FOUR law firms have settled their court action against the Legal Aid Board (LAB) over who should co-ordinate a multi-party action.

The four firms, which comprise the official steering committee for vibration white finger (VWF) claims against British Coal, have reached a compromise with the board after it originally awarded the generic work to rival practice Treanors.

The Sunderland-based firm has now agreed to team up with the official steering group as part of the settlement.

Generic legal aid work will be shared between Treanors, Watson Burton, Brian Thompson & Partners, Irwin Mitchell and Hughes James Jones & Jenkins.

Treanors had previously worked alongside J Keith Park & Co, in St Helen's, in a rival steering committee.

In a separate court action, the Merseyside firm is suing Brian Thompson & Partners as well as Watson Burton on behalf of clients who claim that the firms negotiated industrial injury settlements which were too low. The workers allege a conflict of interest between acting for both unions and individual members when multi-party actions are settled. Both firms deny the allegations.

The four firms, in their original application for judicial review, argued that the board had been influenced by the alleged conflict when awarding the generic work.