The list of Collins Solicitors’ biggest cases over the past 15 years reads like a litany of UK disasters – from rail crashes such as Ladbroke Grove and Paddington, to environmental dramas such as Buncefield and Motherwell via toxic waste cases, Collins was there.
The firm was set up by former high street lawyer Des Collins in 1995. “I was handling the usual sort of local high street work and wanted more of a challenge,” recalls Collins. “From the start we exclusively handled civil litigation.”
The firm primarily handles personal injury cases targeting low-volume, high-value matters. “We’re fortunate enough over the past 15 years to have attracted more work than we can deal with,” he says.
That position allows the firm to focus on the cases it really wants, kicking off with the Watford rail crash in 1996. The location of the firm’s office, next to Watford Junction, meant that daily commuters couldn’t leave the station without seeing the Collins Solicitors name.
Subsequently, in the days following the crash, many of them turned to Collins for help. When the Southall and Paddington crashes happened many of the Watford victims recommended Collins. “The first five or six years of the business were almost entirely devoted to railway work,” says Collins.
It was another recommendation – from a victim of the Paddington crash – that provided the entrée to the deep-vein thrombosis work that kept Collins busy in the early years of the past decade, culminating in a group action that went to the House of Lords in 2005.
The firm is continuing to act for 270 local residents in relation to Buncefield, again partly as a result of geography. “We’re the only solicitors within 20 miles of Buncefield who could look at something like this,” asserts Collins.
The firm’s most recent major result came two months ago for the 18 claimants in the lengthy but successful toxic waste-related Corby case.
Managing partner:Des Collins
Number of partners:Three
Number of lawyers:Eight
Number of fee-earners:16
Number of equity partners:Two
Main practice areas:Civil litigation and personal injury
Key clients: Mostly private individuals
Number of offices:One