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A BOOM in automatic strike-out negligence cases against personal injury solicitors is set to provide a niche market to Pannone & Partners through a novel use of conditional fees.
The firm will focus on the strike-outs of cases under Order 17 Rule 11 where solicitors have been caught by the '15 month rule' and, usually through their own negligence, have run out of time in the County Court.
Head of Pannones' PI department Frank Patterson says the potential market is vast, with thousands of active cases being considered by the Solicitors Indemnity Fund and dozens going to the Court of Appeal.
Although solicitors are obliged to inform clients when their case is struck out, there may be cases where clients do not know they have a claim - particularly as courts do not tell them the cases are struck out.
Patterson says the growing problem of strike-outs stems from a combination of the 15-month rule and jurisdictional changes forcing bigger and more complex cases worth up to £50,000 from the High Court into the County Court. The effect is to put solicitors under greater pressure on time limits.
"The by-product is the generation of a potentially huge client base of people whose cases are struck out. We see this as a good opportunity for specialist departments like ours," says Patterson.
Pannones has ascertained that definitions of personal injury work, in the White Book and the Law Society's Accident Line handbook, include negligence arising from a former solicitor's breach of duty in a personal injury case.