Tánaiste warns Law Society to tackle claims harvesting with firm hand
Government will change how solicitors regulated if claims touting websites not acted on
Simon Coveney: said there was a “huge responsibility” on the Law society to deal with claims harvesting if it was increasing the high cost of insurance. Photograph: Collins
The Tánaiste has warned the Law Society to deal with claims harvesting with a “firm hand” or the Government will change the way it regulates solicitors.
Simon Coveney said there was a “huge responsibility” on the society, the representative and regulatory body for solicitors, to deal with such harvesting if it was increasing the high cost of insurance.
If this was a “persistent problem” he said “the Law Society should reflect on that and respond accordingly”.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said in the Dáil that insurance costs were rising for many reasons but this had become a dominant issue in the market.
“These are ordinary people, not solicitors, who set up websites giving the impression that they are solicitors and they tout for business in personal injury claims. They then sell on that information and data to lawyers who pick up the claims,” he said.
The Law Society has closed down 14 websites in the last three years and taken two major prosecutions of leading websites to the High Court.
But he said “it’s still not enough. We need robust regulation and reform in this sector”. It was not enough to describe it as a grey area because these grey area are pushing up costs for businesses, motorists and home insurance.
“What is the Government going to do to get to grips, finally, with this issue,” he asked. “The Government has been well aware of it for the last number of years.”
The Tánaiste replied: “There is a huge responsibility on the Law Society here. If it wants to prevent the Government changing its approach towards the work the Law Society does, and the balance between what the Law Society does and what the State does in terms of regulation, it needs to deal with this issue with a firm hand.”