Calls for tougher regulation of so-called ‘claims harvesting’
Published on February 2, 2015 by David Jones
Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers calls for tougher regulation of so-called ‘claims harvesting’ to protect consumers
Regulation would also protect the IP and identity of law firms from unscrupulous operators
2 February 2015
Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers today urged both the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner and The Law Society of New South Wales to step in and force regulation of so-called ‘claims harvesting’, after the firm’s IP including logo and address were illegally used by an operator this week.
Prompt action by Carroll & O’Dea’s IP Practice saw the material removed but not before it had been used in a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers.
At least five other law firms were also listed on the site, all of which have now been removed.
“Unfortunately as we move into a less regulated environment in the advertising of Personal Injury services, we can expect to see much more of this type of unscrupulous and misleading activity”, said Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers’ Partner, David Jones.
“Claims harvesting is only set to get worse as long as operators remain entirely outside any regulatory environment and don’t even have to demonstrate any qualification, licensing or other measure of their expertise to consumers.
“They don’t even have to list their place of business or even an ABN and now they have stooped to identity and IP theft from legitimate firms to pursue their business model.
“Quite simply, it is a form of Identity Theft aimed at misleading consumers into thinking they are dealing with lawyers.
“Of course what most people seeking help on a Personal Injury Matter don’t know is that ‘claims harvesters’ are not lawyers but rather operators who on-sell the claims potential of an injured person.
“This places the consumer in the difficult position of being in the hands of representation that is underpinned by a commercial vested interest in pursuing the action, whether it is justified or not.
“We urgently need regulatory review of this sector to protect consumers and legitimate firms.
“Just as the UBER business model is being rightly scrutinised for compliance with regulatory controls that protect consumers, ‘claims harvesting operations’ should also be required to meet base standards that put the interests and rights of consumers first.
“Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers believe this can only be achieved through the intervention of the Legal Services Commission and the Law Society who have the ability and authority to bring some regulatory control to this market.
“Otherwise we will continue to see more of this unscrupulous activity that misleads consumers and exposes legitimate firms to the threat of identity and IP theft”, said Mr Jones.
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