Scrivengers becomes claimant practice after NHSLA setback

Cambridgeshire-based firm Scrivenger Seabrook will revert to claimant work following its expulsion from the National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) panel (The Lawyer, 15 January).

The four-partner firm, which derived 90 per cent of its work from the NHSLA, was expected to disband as its partners migrated to firms that retained their places on the panel.

In a surprising turnaround, the firm has applied to the Law Society for accreditation to act as claimant solicitors.

NHSLA files have been removed from Scrivengers because the firm has not been allowed to continue to do any runoff work. From 1 April, the firm will be relaunched as a niche personal injury and clinical negligence practice.

An NHSLA spokesman says: “It seems illogical to let Scrivengers continue to do work for the NHSLA when it will be suing the NHS in its new role.”

But with a non-existent client list, Scrivengers partner Vicki Seabrook says the firm will have to work hard. “We’ll be on every internet site and in every directory. We’ll have to advertise as widely as possible,” she says.

In January, the NHSLA announced that it was slashing six firms from its panel. The unlucky firms were Trowers & Hamlins, Mills & Reeve, Scrivengers, Le Brasseur J Tickle, Davies Arnold Cooper and Crutes.

Seabrook says: “We were very disappointed that we were repeatedly given reassurances that we wouldn’t be a casualty of the review process. What’s become apparent is that all the firms which were casualties were given the same reassurances.

“The NHSLA has caused unnecessary stress, because in many cases firms had made investments on the strengths of those assurances. We feel very let down because of those assurances,” she says.

A spokesman for the NHSLA denied that assurances had been given to any panel firms during the review process. “Why would we give assurances to firms during a panel review? The whole point of a review is to reduce the number of firms we use,” he says.