Consumer Legal Services
The Consumer Legal Services division serves the personal injury and residential conveyancing sectors of the legal services market. The division provides outsourced marketing services to law firms through the National Accident Helpline brand, and claims processing to individuals through National Accident Law (NAL), and its joint venture LLPs, Law Together and Your Law. In addition, it also provides property searches through Searches UK.
The personal injury market has remained subdued over the past couple of years as the country emerged from the pandemic but also due to the introduction of reforms related to whiplash and soft tissue injuries from road traffic accidents. Data provided by the Claims Recovery Unit of the Ministry of Justice (CRU) and the Official Injury Claim portal for small claims (OIC) showed that the number of new claims registered in 2022 for road traffic accidents in England and Wales (RTA) was down 7% compared to the previous year and down 43% compared to 2019, prior to the pandemic and small claims reforms. For non-RTA claims which include employer’s liability, public liability and occupiers’ liability, claim volumes in 2022 were broadly flat compared to 2021 but this was 42% lower than 2019. We estimate the claimant side personal injury market to be worth £1.1bn in 2021/22 compared to £1.6bn in 2019/20.
We believe the key drivers for the reduction in claim volumes to be:
- A change in behaviours amongst the UK population following the pandemic. This has resulted in a change to working practices and transport usage. This reduced the number of people travelling to work, having accidents at work and fewer accidents in the vicinity of the workplace such as shops, cafes etc.
- The implementation of the Civil Liability Act 2018 (Whiplash Reforms) significantly reduced the compensation payable to injured claimants and solicitors for most RTA claims worth less than £5,000. We believe this has resulted in a lower appetite from consumers to make such a claim.
- Reluctance from people not pursuing a valid claim. Research commissioned by National Accident Helpline (NAH) in Q4 2022 showed that at least £1.4bn of personal injury settlements were unclaimed in 2022 because of people’s reluctance to make a claim. Of these, around 25% had no idea they could make a claim while a similar number thought the process may be too complicated. We believe this is linked to an increased lack of awareness from consumers as the industry pulled back from expensive offline media channels such as TV and radio during the pandemic when movement was restricted, and accident numbers were lower.
To help address this, National Accident Helpline returned to TV advertising in June 2022 and during the second half of the year and this has continued into 2023.
Our investment case and business model
The Group’s personal injury business model is built on three pillars:
a highly productive marketing engine, powered by the sector’s most trusted brand, National Accident Helpline;
an efficient, technology-enabled and purpose-built law firm, National Accident Law, which is focused on the consumer; and
an agile and scalable placement model designed to balance the work we place with our panel for in-year profit and cash with the work we process ourselves for greater, but deferred, profit and cash.
The combined strengths of these pillars uniquely position Consumer Legal Services to profitably service high-volume segments of its market, whilst enabling the division to optimise its returns from higher-value segments of the claims market. The division completed its three-year investment programme in 2020, which laid the foundations for the growth of our own law firm, National Accident Law, and prepared the business for the market reforms implemented in May 2021.
The strong market awareness of our National Accident Helpline brand and its highly optimised website generates a high volume of leads which we triage through our customer contact centre to identify enquiries with the greatest potential of success. Our investments in digital customer journeys means that an increasing number of enquiries are generated entirely online at a reduced cost. We monetise qualified enquiries through our flexible placement model. Enquiries either proceed directly to our in-house processing law firm, National Accident Law, or are dealt with by one of the specialists on our panel of law firms. We no longer place large volumes with our joint venture firms now that we have our own in-house firm, as National Accident Law offers us a better return and a simpler journey for the customer.
For more information, please visit our consumer sites: