James Maxey Opposes the Proposals to Ban Claimant Solicitors Owning Medical Agencies

Managing Partner at Express Solicitors, James Maxey, received a letter from Lord Faulks QC dated 2nd May which welcomes discussion to the proposals for reforms of medical examinations/medical agencies.  The letter from Lord Faulks QC can be found here.

James Maxey responded to the invitation to discuss the proposals by sending the following email to other personal injury stakeholders whom may be affected should the proposals go ahead.

Dear Colleague,

Please excuse the interruption. This email is about the Lord Faulks QC letter and the proposals for the reform of medical examinations/medical agencies.

I am the Managing Director and one of the owners here at Ontime Group and am also one of the owners of Express Solicitors Limited. Ontime Group, which alongside providing outsourcing services for claimant PI firms, including costs services, investigations and the like, is a medical agency which unsurprisingly does the vast majority of my firm’s medical instructions and works for other good quality claimant PI practices.

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I just wanted to draw your attention to this latest consultation and what to me appears to be another pre-decided outcome on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and in particular their proposal of… “a prohibition should be introduced on either party having a financial interest in an intermediary through which a medical report is obtained.”

Is it me or have the government decided that claimant personal injury lawyers are criminals?

These proposals are of course only likely to be a significant issue to you if you are a partner/owner in a legal practice and also involved in the ownership of a medico-legal agency or using some form of white labelling for medical reports.

The purpose of my email is to quickly get in contact with as many people who are in that position along with me and my fellow directors in order to arrange an urgent meeting at my firm’s offices in Northenden, South Manchester, to see if there is interest in pooling resources to instruct Counsel with a view to mounting a legal challenge to this proposal. With that in mind, I’d be grateful if you would forward this email to any of your colleagues in the profession who may also have an interest in this subject.

My initial thoughts were along the lines of ‘this is an unreasonable restraint of trade’. Solicitors are not precluded from owning non-solicitor businesses so why should they effectively be in these circumstances?

Lord Faulks’ letter refers to concerns about independence but you and I know that solicitors are governed by their own code and the CPR in this regard, as are the medical experts and the last people trying to undermine the experts’ independence are in fact that claimant’s solicitors. (Which is more that can be said for some of the very big non-solicitor players in this marketplace in my humble opinion.)

If this topic is of importance to you could you please email my colleague who is helping me out here: Megan.Crehan@ontimegroup.co.uk

Just a one word reply stating your interest will do, or if you have any further comments stick them in the email.

Like you, I have a very busy day job running a law firm so I think at this stage best leave any long discussions for the meeting that I will arrange over the next few days.

Following that meeting, if people are interested we can get Counsel selected and instructed and make progress. I am prepared to take the lead in organising the administration and distribution of information between interested fellow solicitor firms but time is of the very essence here so I would encourage you to reply ASAP if you think you would like to meet to progress this.

Thank you for your time.

James Maxey also appeared in the Insurance Times on 27th May 2014 with the following comments on the matter:

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“It appears to be an obvious unfair restraint of the trade. Solicitors are obviously allowed to operate separate businesses, we are regulated by the SRA and doctors are regulated by their regulators. Therefore, I’m struggling to see the problem.

James continued: “This is almost a cartel situation where some of the very big medico-legal agencies will be able to get bigger market share at the expense of the smaller ones.”

James Maxey continues to oppose the proposals.

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