INDEPENDENT guidelines for personal injury lawyers on sensitive issues like advertising may be drawn up by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

Apil president Michael Napier has sparked off a debate in the group over whether it should issue practice guidelines which may not be in line with the Law Society's policies.

In his presidential address at the Apil autumn conference in Hinckley, Napier said there were inherent dangers in taking a regulatory path.

He referred to the Law Society's decision not to tighten up its advertising guidelines in order to stop marketing companies selling the names of accident victims to lawyers.

He said Apil's executive committee was unhappy about the scheme,which came to light over the summer, allowing lawyers to buy lists of names of accident victims interested in taking legal action from the Gateshead firm Legal Marketing Direct.

He said: “Should Apil place the risk of damage to the image of personal injury lawyers and the wider issue of damage to the profession generally above the interests of the individual members to develop their practices?”

Napier said the association's executive committee needed to consider the point further and called on members to put their views to the association.

Commenting after the speech, Napier stressed it was intended to be thought provoking and should not be seen in any way as an attack on the Law Society.

“What I was throwing out for discussion is that there seem to be some areas of practice which could perhaps justify some sort of guidance,” he said.

“But I don't know whether that is a route that Apil should go down.”

Napier's comments will add to a debate on the future of the Law Society.

In last week's The Lawyer former Law Society president Charles Elly suggested the society could be organised along sectional lines, tapping into the dynamism of special interest groups like Apil.