Plans to police ban on medical negligence referral fees

The SRA or Solicitors Regulation Authority [the organisation regulating all solicitors throughout England and Wales] has just announced its timetable for deciding on the details of the planned referral fee ban on all personal injury and medical negligence claims.

The first step is that within the next few weeks, the SRA will set out an initial formal policy statement – this will then be followed by a three month consultation. In advance of that policy statement, the SRA has already indicated that ‘all options remain on the table’. Therefore, it appears that the details of how the proposed referral fee ban will actually work in practice won’t be known much before the New Year at the very earliest. That gives the thousands of claims management companies and thousands of law firms nationwide who carry out personal injury and medical negligence work just three months, at the very most, in which to plan for the new regime, which the government will bring into force in April 2013. And that’s on the basis that the SRA deliver their plans on how they intend to police the referral fee and – which is itself complex and highly contentious – on time.

Furthermore, confidence in the SRA’s ability to deliver is not exactly inspired by their own admission that they expect to be unable to stop the creation of alternative business structures purely for the purpose of getting around the ban – provided these new structures comply with the new regulations.

Furthermore, those who have followed the SRA’s recent problems may not have much confidence in their ability to produce these plans on time – especially given their very recent announcement that they are scrapping their expensive and failed online “my SRA project”. As Solicitors specialising in medical negligence claims,  do we have faith in the SRA to deliver the right result on time – not on the basis of their current performance!