Wording row at conference stalls Apil's conduct code

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers insists its code of conduct has been approved in principle despite a row over its wording.

Apil leaders had expected delegates at the group's annual conference on 15 November to approve its compulsory code of conduct in full.

But some of the group's 3,000 members were worried that one clause in the code could end legitimate referral deals between lawyers. At a closed meeting, delegates asked for clause 10 of the code to be rewritten.

In its current form, the clause states: “No Apil member shall receive fees for the introduction of clients.”

Although delegates agreed solicitors should not pay money for lists of accident victims provided by marketing firms, there was concern the clause could outlaw legitimate referrals.

One delegate said a specialist personal injury lawyer should be allowed to refer clients seeking other legal advice to other firms for a percentage cut of the fees.

Caroline Harmer, president of Apil, said the delegates were behind the basic principals of the code of conduct, but were unhappy about clause 10.

She said she had asked for a show of hands which confirmed the code would be accepted if clause 10 was reworded.

Apil's executive committee will now have to reword the clause to accommodate the delegates' views, a task Harmer admits will not be easy.