UK Personal Injury Market
UNCERTAIN TIMES AHEAD FOR A MARKET STILL COMING TO TERMS WITH A CHANGED LEGAL LANDSCAPE
The UK Personal Injury Market Briefing is the third edition of an annual Legal Market Briefing from IRN Research and provides an overview of the UK personal injury and clinical negligence markets.
The personal injury market is still in a state of flux as it continues to come to terms with the far-reaching changes resulting from the implementation of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and subsequent legislation. There is also market uncertainty as it is not clear whether decisions on some proposed changes, such as the raising of the limit for small claims and fixed fees for clinical negligence cases, have been dropped, amended, or just delayed.
IRN Research estimates the value of the market (including clinical negligence) at over £3bn in 2015 and projected value growth for 2016-2018 is only at the low-single digit level per annum.
Feedback from 40 personal injury firms in an IRN Research survey suggests that the market has split views on revenue trends over the next 12 months: around half of respondents are expecting to see revenue growth but a similar number are bracing themselves for static or decreasing sales. Practitioners identify many obstacles to growth but few drivers.
For many players, it has become a market where profits are much harder to come by. This is especially true for lower value cases, but not exclusively so. As a result, some providers have reduced the number and types of cases they are taking on, other firms have left the sector or merged with others, while some have tried to diversify into new legal market segments.
The industry is consolidating and many of the big players are getting bigger but some smaller operators are fighting back by, for example, looking to network together and/or use modern online methods to reach a wider audience. Manifestations of the latter approach include a growing number of separately branded claims sites set up by firms, and the increasing use of SEO by an expanding number of personal injury law firms. Not all of the larger players have been able to ride the market fluctuations and there have been some big name casualties in the last year.
There are still almost 3,000 law firms in the market in England and Wales but numbers of claims management companies have dipped to below 900 from a peak of 2,500 just a few years ago.
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