The Law Society of Northern Ireland has welcomed the decision by the Government at Westminster to introduce legislation to prohibit the payment of referral fees in England and Wales.
In September 2011, the Government indicated its intention to ban referral fees and on Tuesday night draft proposals were debated in the House of Commons.
A referral fee is a sum of money paid by insurers, claims management companies, garages or legal representatives in order to gain access to the contact details of those involved in an accident.
The legal position in Northern Ireland is that the payment of referral fees by solicitors is prohibited.
The Law Society of Northern Ireland has consistently argued that the payment of referral fees by solicitors is not in the consumer’s interest.
However the payment by claims management companies and insurance companies is not prohibited in this jurisdiction.
Commenting Rory McShane, Chairman of the Litigation Action Group at the Law Society said:
“The Law Society has consistently maintained that referral fees are not in the consumer interest and we pleased that this position is now being endorsed by the Westminster Parliament.
It is now appropriate that local MLAs and the Northern Ireland Executive give due consideration to the draft proposals on referral fees coming from London.
The Society urges the introduction of legislation similar to that which is being introduced in England in Northern Ireland”.
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