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Last week The Lawyer reported on Russell Jones & Walker's shock decision to acquire Claims Direct, the claims management company dubbed 'Shames Direct' by the press following complaints from customers over the size of payouts. Russell Jones, the second-largest personal injury firm in the country, has bought Claims Direct's brand name, call centre technology, website and telephone numbers. The new business will operate under the name New Claims Direct.
David Marshall, vice president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and a partner at Anthony Gold
"It is a brave decision given the tainted history of the Claims Direct name. However, I think the whole of the personal injury world continues to be in a state of change, particularly in obtaining new business. So I can see the attraction of having the call centre technology to build their marketing efforts. I suppose this is a one-off opportunity, which is why Russell Jones is probably doing it. Although, I am sure similar things will happen again. Essentially for Russell Jones, it's a question of weighing up the risks with regard to the brand."
Kerry Underwood, senior partner,Underwoods
"I am surprised that a firm with the size and reputation of Russell Jones & Walker has bought Claims Direct. While I appreciate that the name is still probably well known for many, it will be for the wrong reasons. It says something about the parlous state of personal injury practice that Russell Jones has taken this step. The reality is that all claimant personal injury firms, whatever size, are struggling with the massive uncertainties surrounding funding. I am not sure that taking over a company that caused many of those uncertainties is the answer. But I wish the firm well."
Simon Edwards, barrister, 39 Essex Street Chambers
"Russell Jones & Walker have a very good brand name in personal injury work so if anyone can make it work, they can. They must have done it because they think that there is sufficient goodwill in the Claims Direct name and coupled with theirs it will create a good brand. The principal ethical issue which is likely to arise is the firm wanting to get the case settled and the client wanting the biggest award. But I would think that a firm like Russell Jones is more than capable of dealing with such an issue."