These are not standard road accident cases or straightforward financial refund claims. This is a huge legal action against one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, and the size of the action is likely to be one of the biggest ever seen in the UK.
This is a very important warning. We can show you what to look out for so you know that you are instructing a real law firm (like us), as opposed to putting your details in the hands of people calling themselves experts, when they really have no relevant expertise at all.
Why does it matter who you instruct?
We don't want anyone who wants to claim to miss any court deadlines, yet people are at risk of this very problem without a proper lawyer working for them. They're playing with fire...
We have represented thousands of real people for compensation claims in both singular actions and large group actions. It is likely that a court action consisting of thousands of people will go ahead.
Generally speaking, claims management companies are NOT lawyers. They may NOT be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority; they may NOT be equipped to provide proper legal services and advice; and they are usually NOT capable of representing you for a complex legal claim.
Our lawyers are concerned that there are unregulated firms that may be handling the confidential personal data of thousands of people who intend to seek compensation. This could be a ticking time bomb with monumental consequences for those who fall prey to the circling sharks.
BE WARNED: we have seen websites claim to be experts, and claim to have helped thousands of people for similar issues, yet there is no evidence of this at all. It's always worth asking someone you speak to on the phone exactly what experience they have!
Some of the false statements we have seen are alarming! What's equally as alarming is that these firms are hiding behind huge disclaimers on their websites.
Your claim - sold for a profit!
We'd be surprised if any law firm would even be prepared to pay these sharks sums of money for your claim. But if they are, it could cause you serious problems.
If you go with a claims management firm and not a real law firm, what's in it for them?
Simple: referral fees!
The unscrupulous world of referral fees has plagued the claims industry for years. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have never bought and sold claims. We have never paid referral fees to accept cases from claims management firms or insurers, and we never will!
Referral fees were banned in 2013 for many forms of claims - a move that we welcomed.
The impact on your claim!
The claims management firm that you give your details will likely sell the clam to a lawyer for a fee, which could be as much as £1,000 or more. This can be bad for you because it can reduce the quality of legal services that the lawyer who buys your case can offer.
How the quality of legal services are affected!
Referral fees are not recoverable from the opponent, so the money that the claims management firm takes from your lawyer can come right out of the budget for running your case.
This is a serious legal action that consists of thousands of people, and the funds for the case need to be spent on fighting for your rights to justice; not being squandered on middlemen who swallow up a huge chunk of your legal budget.
In the past, people who have gone to lawyers through claims companies have had serious issues, such as:
Poor service levels - money is wasted on buying the case instead of working for you
Less funds to fight for the best possible payout - leading to lower settlements
Being left with a lawyer you don't even choose! How do you know they are suitable for you?
Typically the claims management companies will sell claims to the highest bidding law firm on their panel. This can make it even worse - the firm that ends up with your claim is the one who has wasted more of your claims budget than others!
Do things the right way:
Go direct to a law firm - like us, for direct access to legal services without money being squandered on referral fees
Cut out the middlemen - what value do they offer? You wouldn't buy a house without even seeing it first because some random middleman has told you it's amazing!
Protect your position properly - some of the content we have seen on other websites appears to have benchmarked what we say about protecting your right to claim by registering in an action. That's NOT how it works - where a Group Litigation is formed, you have to be registered on the action; not just registered with a firm. We're doubtful that a claims management firm has any idea how to do this, and they probably won't be in a formal funding arrangement with you either!
Go with a regulated lawyer - if you don't, you risk all of the problems above, AND you risk absolutely no redress if you miss a court deadline. If they're not regulated, and if they don't have insurance or funds to compensate you for costing you your chance to claim, you could be left with no compensation and no feasible action to take against the claims management firm!
Our real legal action has started. We have initiated thousands of real claims on behalf of real victims. Our action in the High Court of Justice has already started.
How do I tell if a company is NOT a real law firm?
WATCH OUT: look for regulator names and numbers, not just company numbers. Company Numbers or Registration Numbers (which is just a number for the registered business) usually start with a "0" - e.g. 0987... etc
The easiest way is to look through their website and see who the actual company is. Law firms will normally put the following on their website:
... we are 'Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 508768)'.
This is on our website because we are a real law firm. We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and we have our own unique "SRA" number to prove it.
If you cannot see this on the website you're looking at, they may not be real lawyers.
These are the indicators to watch out for when trying to spot the non-lawyers:
They say they will put you "in touch" for "expert legal advice"
They may refer to their "panel of legal firms"
As they probably can't assess your claim, they may say that their "expert lawyers will validate and assess your claim"
They may have disclaimers that will say things like you should not take the accuracy of information and advice they give "completely for granted." - so, in essence, anything on such a website may be wholly inaccurate! Madness!
Watch out for the copycats too! They often rip off the style and content from real lawyers like us.
What should you do if you have registered with a claims management company?
You should only ever instruct an actual law firm to represent you for your case. Luckily for you, it's easy to spot who is the real deal, and who is not.
If you have not formed a legal agreement then you may be OK to move on. You just need to make sure that you're not tied it to anything legal and binding.
Without being able to see what has been agreed, we cannot say for certain what trouble you may be in though. So you must check this first before going elsewhere.
The key facts
Our advice in summary:
Instruct a real regulated law firm with real expertise in group action cases
Look for Solicitors Regulation Numbers on websites
Ask questions to people you speak to about their experience and the nature of their business
Instruct a middleman claims firm. Avoid anyone who is NOT a law firm
Let your claim be sold to the highest bidder for profit at the cost of the quality of legal services
Jeopardise your right to claim by missing court deadlines because you've not instructed a real lawyer