The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has come under fire from solicitors after it was made known that their ban on companies cold calling clients is to be lifted. The news sparked anger in the legal community as changes could easily drag the reputation of the personal injury industry down.
Almost a decade of regulation
In 2009, the SRA changed their code of conduct by amending rule 7.03(1) which is the definition of what is considered cold calling. Previously the term “unsolicited visit” held vague meaning which meant some illegitimate companies were able to bend the rules. This enabled cold calls to injury victims and referring their claim onto law firms. The amendments to the definition aimed to ensure cold calling was clearly defined and would prevent solicitors and claims management companies from doing so.
With the industry always battling against fraud, it was a welcome change which would help alleviate some of the stigma attached to the personal injury sector; often labelled as “ambulance chasing”. The banning of cold calls looked to ensure all claims coming in were organic and not pressured, as well as only being undertaken by recognized, reputable solicitors.
Opening the gates
The Association of Personal Injury Solicitors (APIL) noticed that as part of the slimming down of the rulebook, the rule had disappeared. Doing so and eliminating the rule opens up the possibility of a return to floods of calls from unethical law firms.
Scott Rees & Co Marketing Partner David Byrne was very sceptical on the SRA’s decision to omit the rule from the latest handbook, telling us “The legal industry has been striving to eliminate cold calling for years. Removing the rule could leave UK residents open to thousands of phone calls from companies acting unethically with no recourse.”
“We strongly oppose the removal of the rule and urge the SRA to keep assisting us in our fight against unethical companies. As a signee of the ethical marketing charter, Scott Rees & Co will continue to do everything we can to ensure regulation is in place to keep the industry as sterile and free of underhanded firms as possible.”
Cold Calling Is A Huge Annoyance To Everyone
More than just opening up a flood of unsolicited calls to UK residents, the removal of rule 7 would encourage a myriad of claims management companies and unethical law firms to prey on those who have been injured. It would give firms grounds to aggressively go after cases even if it means bullying people into making a fraudulent claim.
With the ability to chase potential clients at will and no penalty for doing so, companies will not be discouraged from taking the risk of upsetting some to secure a number of claims; putting an emphasis on profit over ethics.
If you’d like more information on our cold calling policies and our pledge to be an ethical marketing company, you can see our page on cold calling here. If you’d like to do something active for a cold caller, consumer watchdog “Which?” has an online reporting tool.