A complete ban on cold calling for personal injury claims is essential to protect consumers and prevent unscrupulous operators from finding a way around existing rules, solicitors’ groups have warned.
Responding to the news the Telephone Preference Service - which enables consumers to opt out of receiving telemarketing calls - will move from The Office of Communications (Ofcom) to the Information Commissioners’ Office, the Law Society, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Motor Accidents Solicitors Society (MASS) warned the change was a missed opportunity to tackle the problem of nuisance calls, unsolicited and unwanted marketing messages, plus spam texts for personal injury.
The solicitor groups have insisted that until there is a ban, unscrupulous operators will find a way around the rules, which are opaque and difficult to navigate.
The call from solicitors comes as the government is proposing to introduce reforms to civil justice that will restrict access to justice for consumers who have been injured seriously through negligence.
The government is claiming that there are too many ‘fraudulent and exaggerated’ whiplash claims and are proposing to abolish or reduce compensation for all personal injury claims worth £5,000 and under, rather than focusing on fraudulent claimants.
Law Society president Robert Bourns said: ‘The Law Society believes the practice of cold calling used by some claims management companies should be banned.’
‘Cold calls are widely regarded as intrusive and some pressurise people to make personal injury claims including claims for whiplash injuries.
‘In the worst cases, callers encourage people to claim in respect of accidents where no injury has occurred. Rather than trying to abolish or reduce compensation for the vast majority of genuine claimants, the government should take firm action to end the activities of cold callers who seek to profit from bogus or exaggerated claims.’
Neil Sugarman, president of APIL said: “The government has just published proposals which will take the rights of injured people back to the dark ages when what it needs to do is tackle the scourge of cold calling.
‘Cold calling is at the very core of misconceptions about claiming for personal injury, and is at the root of these unfair and unnecessary proposals. Cold calling is universally detested yet the government would rather punish genuinely injured people than tackle the real problem.’
Simon Stanfield, chair of MASS said: ‘Solicitors have long been banned from making unsolicited texts and calls, but it is clear that data for cold calls is mined, sold and re-sold by a variety of organisations across the personal injury sector. Claims management companies (CMCs) are undoubtedly the worst offenders, but they are not alone.
‘The only solution is a complete ban on unsolicited texts and cold calls. If the current regulatory regime does not have the legal powers, we shall continue to press for a commitment to ban them under the stronger powers available to the Financial Conduct Authority once it takes full responsibility for regulating CMCs from April 2018.’