Manchester-based firm Horwich Farrelly is responsible for what is thought to be a first in insurance litigation. After successfully defending a false road traffic accident damages claim against a client, the firm took the unusual step of bringing a private prosecution against the fraudster, proving the defendant had perverted the course of justice.
It was the first time such an action had succeeded and the defendant was jailed for six months.
One advantage of being an insurance litigation specialist is that, even in recessionary times, clients tend not to shy away from going to court.
“We’re one of the lucky ones,” admits chief executive Anthony Hughes. “We’re not dependent on the market trends. The commercial law sector’s been hurt because people couldn’t afford to fight. But insurers won’t pay every claim just because we’re in a downturn. The sector’s actually remained static, but because everything else is flagging it looks buoyant.”
In 2010 Horwich Farrelly established a base in Sheffield to complement its offices in Manchester and Chelmsford. The firm, which was founded in 1969, does not handle non-contentious work, specialising instead in representing insurers in disputes with third parties and policyholders.
The firm is divided into four sectors: general litigation, which handles everything from traffic accidents to significant injuries; fraud; a specialised costs department; and a claims-handling business.
Hughes, who was managing partner at Ricksons before its merger with DWF in 2007, has a vision for his firm as a multidisciplinary business.
“We’re now looking at our options in terms of the Legal Services Act and alternative business structures,” he reveals. “We want to make sure we’re in a position to offer more services to insurers within the claims process.”
Chief executive: Anthony Hughes
Number of partners:11
Number of lawyers:63
Number of fee-earners:172
Number of offices:Three
Locations:Chelmsford, Manchester, Sheffield
Main practice areas:Claimant personal injury, fraud, insurance litigation
Key clients: Admiral Group, Brit Insurance, esure