Lords move to ban ‘ambulance chasing’ cold callers

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Sep 13, 2017
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An amendment to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill would criminalise unsolicited touting for personal injury claims

John Stillwell/PA

Personal injury lawyers are backing a House of Lords move to ban “ambulance chasing” claims management companies that cold call potential clients over the telephone.

An amendment is being proposed to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, currently before peers, which would make unsolicited touting for claims illegal. The amendment has been tabled by the Conservative peer Baroness Altmann, and is to be debated today.

The amendment would make it illegal for claims management companies to “instigate the use of a public electronic communications service for the purpose of making unsolicited telephone calls for direct marketing”. It would also ban unsolicited emails by claims managers or those acting on their behalf.

Personal injury experts estimate that about 51 million calls and text messages are received in the UK from companies encouraging people to make personal injury claims.

Lady Altmann’s amendment has won the support of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which mostly represents law firms acting for claimants. It has long waged a campaign against claims management companies, because many lawyers believe they damage the reputation of claimant personal injury firms.

However, other personal injury law firms work with claims management companies in bringing cases to court.

“The Ministry of Justice says the majority of nuisance calls and spam texts come from illegal, unregulated firms,” Brett Dixon, the association’s president, said. “But data from the Information Commissioner’s Office shows that regulated claims management firms are responsible for millions of these calls and texts about personal injury claims.

“They can and should be stopped. We hope that the opportunity is not lost.”
Dixon added: “Not only are calls and texts a huge public bugbear, they give the impression that easy money is to be made, which in turn gives rise to fraudulent attempts to receive compensation. It is a tasteless and intrusive practice.”

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