The new personal injury powerhouses

When Parabis entered The Lawyer UK200 in 2011 it boasted turnover of £100m – not bad for a firm that had only launched eleven years earlier.

News of its intended merger with Greenwoods this week will move the firm closer to The Lawyer UK top 20 with a combined turnover of £150m – £90m of which is expected to be generated by the firm’s defendant insurance practice which now covers both Plexus and Greenwood.

It is no coincidence that just weeks after the Jackson reforms came into being that so many personal injury books are being shifted around. The fact is without being able to recover costs from the losing side profitability in these cases has just taken a beating.

For many claimant firms personal injury cases simply won’t add up. But for the select few – Parabis amongst them – it presents an opportunity.

Take Slater & Gordon. The firm first entered the UK market a year ago through the acquisition of Russell Jones & Walker. This week it followed Parabis in announcing the planned acquisitions of Simpson Millar, Goodmans Law and the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters.

And let’s not forget the Quindell Portfolio, which until its merger with Silverbeck Rymer, was a non-legal company. Just days after the Jackson reforms came into place it unveiled a £500m-a-year deal with RAC. It is only a matter of time before other such deals are revealed.

It is a market in a state of flux and constant change, but already these are the firms that are showing they have planned ahead.

Elsewhere in litigation:

  • The number of international litigants turning to the Commercial Court to resolve disputes has increased by 30 per cent since March 2009 while the number of domestic litigants is on on the wane.
  • 39 Essex Street’s Robert Jay QC, the counsel to the Leveson Inquiry, has been appointed to the High Court in the latest round of judicial appointments.
  • And new rules governing international arbitration have lawyers hotly debating how much regulation is required.