Forster Dean CEO slams MoJ as firm makes 13 redundant

Forster Dean has confirmed that more than a dozen lawyers and staff have left the firm following a redundancy consultation.

Gregory Shields
Gregory Shields

The two-week process concluded with the voluntary redundancy of nine solicitors and one legal executive and the compulsory redundancy of one solicitor, one fee-earner and one non-fee earning role (11 January 2013).

The high sreet firm’s chief executive Gregory Shields lambasted the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as he announced the job cuts.

He said the MoJ’s proposals on reducing costs for road traffic accident (RTA) cases were “dangerous and frightening” and that his firm had been refused information it had requested on the thinking behind the MoJ’s consultation.

Shields said: “All those who are leaving Forster Dean are really good people. But we felt, due to the absolute lack of any kind of clarity from the MoJ, we have to try to prepare for the future.

“There’s nothing good about people losing their jobs, particularly when we’ve spent years training them. However, we have to run the business as efficiently as possible and adapt to any changes that come.”

The firm has 29 offices across the North West and the Midlands and has been vocal in its criticism of civil justice reforms recommended in the Jackson Report (3 December 2012) to costs and funding arrangements in the personal injury (PI) sector.

Shields said the current proposals, which have suggested reducing the fixed costs chargeable on an RTA case from £1,200 to £500, will have a “massive impact on the industry”.

He added: “Our model is dedicated to having a qualified lawyer in each office and we’ll fight very hard to maintain that.

“I believe you’ve got to have a qualified person dealing with PI, conveyancing and all sorts of enquiries.

“But we’re sitting here right now with no idea what the MoJ is planning. I don’t believe there’s been a proper analysis on how the changes will affect communities.

“Law centres are closing, so are Citizens Advice Bureaux. The average person will not go online and do this for themselves. I don’t believe in this ‘race to the bottom’ attitude to law – it’s a fallacy. But we’re running a business and I’m gutted when we have to start a consultation. None of them deserved to go.”