Hampered by the COVID-19 claims climate and consequent cash flow issues, Heptonstalls Solicitors had, until very recently, been in administration.
However, a few weeks ago, in a pre-pack sale, the claimant firm, specialising in industrial disease, was procured by HH Legal, which was itself bought as a ‘near-shell’ company, earlier this summer.[i]
HH Legal is owned by solicitor, Dominic Weir, who is a former Heptonstalls employee and has also held positions at Roberts Jackson and Leo Abse & Cohen.
As a result of this acquisition, 100 jobs have been salvaged and Heptonstalls’ Head of Industrial Disease, Shane Hensman, has been appointed as a director of HH Legal.
Mr. Weir insists that he plans to build a ‘sustainable, inclusive, and innovative law firm’ that provides a solution to impending low-value road-traffic accident (RTA) reforms. Boasting ‘pretty ambitious growth plans’, he has sensationally predicted that HH Legal (trading as Heptonstalls) could be ranked inside the top 200 law firms, in respect of revenue, within the space of 1-year.
That being said, he is still unconvinced that the whiplash reforms will materialise by the latest April 2021 deadline.
Legal Futures was informed that Mr. Weir’s original plan had been to take over HH Legal and join a panel of law firms (capped at 70 firms), called the ‘Call Brian’ panel.
‘Call Brian’, which Mr. Hensman described as ‘a bit of a dream’, is an automated personal injury claims tool which carries out compliant ID checks, creates retainer documents, sends chaser messages to clients, schedules medical appointments through the MedCo system and prepares Stage 2 settlement packs for prospective completion of claims. In short, it is an integrated software product designed to increase cost effectiveness, replacing ‘90% of what firms do’.
When, in June 2020, Mr. Weir discovered that a deal had been struck with ‘Call Brian’, such that all participating firms would be required to funnel their cases through Heptonstalls, as the sole operating firm, he envisaged an ‘attractive prospect’ that was ‘too good an opportunity to miss’.[ii]
Under new ownership, Heptonstalls will sustain its pre-arranged relationship with ‘Call Brian’, sharing all fees with referring firms 50/50. All users will be charged 25% of their damages under a conditional fee agreement and Heptonstalls will take over conduct on all cases that fall out of the dedicated portal.
‘Confident’ that ‘Call Brian’ will not miss ‘subtle injuries’ that could lead to a departure from the portal, one wonders whether the corporate collaboration is mere coincidence.
In edition 293 of BC Disease News (here), we reported that motor insurers had seen an unexpected rise in run-of-the-mill RTA claims that seek damages for more complex injuries (specifically tinnitus), in addition to conventional soft tissue injuries.
Did Heptonstalls capitalise on this opportunity because it believed that it would have exposure to large numbers of claims that could be exempted from the forthcoming small claims track reforms and made lucrative? Only time will tell.
[i] Neil Rose, ‘Exclusive: PI newcomer saves 100 jobs with Yorkshire firm pre-pack’ (22 September 2020 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/exclusive-pi-newcomer-saves-100-jobs-with-yorkshire-firm-pre-pack> accessed 2 October 2020.
[ii] Neil Rose, ‘Yorkshire firm calls Brian to scoop up whiplash claims’ (22 June 2020 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/yorkshire-firm-calls-brian-to-scoop-up-whiplash-claims> accessed 23 June 2020.