So, ladies and gentlemen, we turn this afternoon to the conjugation of referral fees, thus: We are operating within the current framework. You are drumming up business. They indulge in shabby practices.
Yes, just like a dodgy whiplash claim, the debate over referral fees – where insurance companies sell on accident details to PI lawyers – is back again. Their very existence has come as a complete surprise to Jack Straw. (The same woefully underbriefed Jack Straw served as justice secretary in the Brown government for three years.)
Anyway. Straw voiced outrage on Radio Four yesterday, describing referral fees as “a racket”. Not to be outdone, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly went one better on the Today programme this morning when he vowed that the Government would be taking a hard look at several industry practices underpinning a “rotten suing culture”.
But with Axa now deciding to kick the habit, it seems clear other insurance companies will follow suit. And as we report today, most lawyers agree there ought to be a tougher regime (see story).
Still, it might be a job persuading the Legal Services Board. Just six weeks ago, after a vair detailed review (see story), it concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to suggest the fees are detrimental to consumers” and that the best way to manage them was by “shining the light of transparency on them”.
Shame no-one told Jack earlier.