In a nationwide first, more than 70 law firms throughout England and Wales have pledged to donate a proportion of their fees from personal injury (PI) cases in order to benefit local communities. The Community Claims scheme, launched in May this year, will see solicitors donate £100 for each PI claim they accept.
In a novel arrangement, the money raised has been earmarked for three distinct causes: half of the sum will be donated to a cause nominated by the client, while the remaining portion will be split between schools and charities. £25 will be paid into the firm’s local Community Claims school fund, and each time the fund reaches £500 the firm will select a school to receive the payment by drawing lots. £20 will be paid into a central fund to enable large distributions to be made at the end of each financial year to organisations that have been nominated by the clients of the participating firm, and £5 will go towards administration costs. As an added bonus, everyone who puts a PI claim through a Community Claims solicitor is guaranteed to receive 100 per cent of their compensation.
Mark Hollinshead, senior partner at Taylor Hollinshead and co-founder of Community Claims, said the scheme is for those who genuinely wish to make a PI claim. “The idea is a simple one and includes firms of all sizes and in all areas,” he said. “Solicitors have been keen on the idea, especially as the scheme lends a better light to personal injury work, which isn’t always favourably perceived.”
Only solicitors who have proven expertise in handling expert claims will be eligible to join the scheme – they have to be members of the Law Society Specialist Personal Injury Panel or the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil). Furthermore, only one firm within each parliamentary constituency area is allowed to join the scheme and constituencies are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The firms will pay a joining fee and a monthly subscription to cover running costs.
To date, 79 firms have signed up for the scheme. Rosemary Escott, a PI partner at Norwich-based member firm Hatch Brenner, commented: “As members of Apil, we received an email from Mark Hollinshead asking what we thought of the idea. As personal injury lawyers, we tend to get sick of the ambulance-chasing image that we’re tarred with, and we felt this scheme offered a fresh approach. We’re a group of people dedicated to personal injury – we want to give excellent service to clients and give something back to the community.”