The Claims Management Regulation Unit shut down 209 claims management companies (CMCs) in England and Wales between April and November in 2012. Three more rogue firms were suspended and a further 140 were warned.
The unit, which is part of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for England and Wales, is also working with the UK's data watchdog to tackle firms who break the law with unsolicited calls and texts. The MoJ has now shut down over 900 CMCs over the last five years, meanwhile CMCs operating in Scotland remain wholly unregulated and free to rip-off Scottish consumers with impunity.
GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly said: "Scotland is now seriously lagging behind the rest of the UK when it comes to protecting consumers from the rogue practices of claims management companies. CMCs have a licence to do as they please in Scotland, with no regulation, minimum standards or consumer friendly rights of redress. In short, CMCs can rip off Scottish customers without fear of any sanction. It is troubling indeed that the Justice Secretary in Scotland does not feel it important to give Scottish consumers the same quality of protection that exists in England and Wales".
CMCs frequently engage in high pressured cold-calling or texting, taking up-front fees from customers through credit and debit card payments over the phone. This year CMCs in England and Wales will be obliged to provide written contract in advance of taking fees, with the Legal Ombudsman being empowered to regulate complaints and award compensation where appropriate.
Claims firm advertise widely on TV, newspapers and the internet and are not solely concerned with PPI (payment protection insurance claims), for example they encourage people to sue for personal injury compensation, and for other losses. Some firms also use improper cold-calling, by phone or text, to procure clients.