Law Society Society Personal Injury Accreditation
Competent personal injury solicitors who meet the highest standards of expertise and client service may apply for membership of the Law Society's Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme.
A competent practitioner is one who can identify and advise on a wide range of personal injury and related issues. Where necessary he will seek any appropriate advice and assistance as may be required, to enable him to provide a full and effective legal service to his client.
Research suggests that a lack of specific professional skills may be a frequent cause of unsatisfactory standards of work in personal injury cases. Therefore applicants to the scheme are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the law, associated rules, regulations and procedures relevant to this area of practice.
Can any personal injury lawyer apply for membership?
An applicant must be able to demonstrate significant career experience, including having concluded either at least 36 personal injury cases in the previous 3 years, or over 60 in the previous 5 years.
He also must have acted in at least 10 cases that reached the filing of pre-trial checklist stage, and one case where the award was approved by the Court because the claimant was a minor or protected party.
At least one personal injury case must have been taken to a full trial or achieved settlement after the issue of proceedings through a joint settlement meeting or other formal means of alternative dispute resolution.
As part of the application, the Law Society requires the applicant to complete 3 case reports with any necessary supporting papers. These must be taken from cases personally conducted and concluded by the applicant in the last 12 months.
If an applicant cannot comply fully with these criteria he may still apply for membership if he can demonstrate a suitable level of experience to justify membership of the scheme.
How are applications assessed?
Applications are assessed independently, with each subset of questions within the application form and the case reports being marked A B C D or F.
Only applicants with grade A (acceptable) in every section will be considered for accreditation. If graded B or C, the applicant may be asked for further supporting explanations to help their application; D means defer as further training is required - and an F is a fail.
Applicants are also assessed to ensure they are fit and proper person to become an accreditation scheme member. Past records are examined to ensure no offences involving fraud, dishonesty or violence have been committed and that best standards of professional conduct have always been maintained.
Is membership of the scheme for life?
Membership is for 5 years, after which members must apply for re-accreditation to ensure they are maintaining the standards, systems and experience necessary to satisfy the Law Society as to their competence.
Where it is determined that the member has ceased to be a fit and proper person to continue to be a member of the scheme, the Law Society may refuse, revoke or suspend the membership or attach conditions to it.
For further information see: Law Society's Personal Injury Accreditation Scheme
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.