HF and Hastings Direct have achieved a significant result at Newcastle County Court, exposing claimant solicitors who had misled the court by inflating the value of a claim worth no more than £10,000 alleging it to worth more than £25,000 to increase their entitlement to legal costs.

HF uncovered that the claimant solicitors did not have a legitimate argument when asking for a claim value of £15,000 – £50,000 which was classified as a ‘help with fees’ case. Despite us raising concerns early on, the claimant solicitors continued to seek allocation to the multi-track, whilst also seeking the usual fast-track directions to ensure it was a one-day trial. HF believes that the judge who subsequently allocated the claim to the multi-track relied entirely on the misleading valuation of up to £50,000 from the claims form.

On behalf of Hastings Direct, we explained that the court had been misled, whilst the claimant solicitors continued to argue that there was a dispute on valuation and that the multi-track was appropriate. HF believed the claimant solicitors were trying to gain extra costs through multi-track allocation, which allows a higher payout compared to the fixed recoverable costs of the fast-track.

The claimant solicitors cost budget indicated an intention to seek costs in the region of £66,000 if the claims were successful, and if allocated to the multi-track system, it would have increased claimant costs by more than £50,000.

Due to HF explaining the potential abuse of the system, the judge reallocated the claim back to fast- track. He also ruled that the claimant solicitors could not recover any costs associated with the period of multi-track allocation, including the costs of preparing the costs budget. In addition, the judge awarded HF costs of £3,000.

Morgan Davies, Partner at HF commented, “This is an important win for our industry. We have seen a sharp rise in claimant solicitors looking for ways to make additional income following the introduction of the OIC, the official injury claim service. When cases are processed as small claims, claimant solicitors are not able to recover their costs and are therefore seeking other means to generate lost revenue. This is driving up the cost of claims for insurers, which in turn drives up the cost of premiums for drivers. At HF, we’re committed to working against this and this case demonstrates that our investigation and opposition was successful. We hope to help more insurers in the future who are being exploited by opportunistic solicitors.”

This press release has been featured in Insurance Today, Law Gazette, Insurance Post & Insurance Edge.