Parliamentarians, regulators, law firms and claims management companies came together for a roundtable event in Parliament on Tuesday 27 October to develop a clear action plan for stamping out unethical marketing practices in the personal injury sector.
Organised and hosted by National Accident Helpline and chaired by its CEO, Russell Atkinson, the aim of the roundtable was to build further momentum behind the Ethical Marketing Charter – an industry-led initiative that calls on businesses in the personal injury sector to never cold call, text or email, never engage in the unethical buying of accident data nor use misleading advertising.
A total of 50 organisations from the personal injury sector have now signed the Charter since its launch in July, and the campaign has secured endorsements from a range of organisations including the Claims Management Regulator, the Legal Ombudsman, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Motor Accidents Solicitors Association.
Shadow Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Chi Onwurah MP, who attended the roundtable said:
"It's great to see the personal injury sector taking a proactive approach to tackling unethical marketing. Nuisance calls and other high-pressure tactics have a damaging impact on consumers, and industry-led initiatives such as the Ethical Marketing Charter will help to create clear water between ethical and unethical businesses."
Attendees were encouraged to consider three key questions during the event – each of which related to one of the Ethical Marketing Charter commitments:
- What further action can the personal injury sector, government and regulators take to eradicate nuisance calls, texts and emails?
- What is the best way to clamp down on the unethical buying and selling of accident data?
- What constitutes misleading advertising, and are tougher penalties required to discourage it?
Attendees were united in their view that further action is required to tackle unethical marketing, and there was a strong consensus behind several key actions that will help to clamp down on rogue firms and improve protection for consumers. Key actions to be taken forward include:
- Improving consumer understanding of where to report instances of cold calling and other high-pressure marketing tactics, and ensuring this process is as clear and straightforward as possible.
- Tackling the trade in personal data – a key driver of nuisance marketing – and ensuring there is greater clarity on opt-ins and data consent.
- Better sharing of information between regulatory bodies and more clarity on their differing roles and responsibilities.
- Ensuring that law firms undertake due diligence on how their cases are generated, and report any concerns that unethical practices were involved.
Following the roundtable, Russell Atkinson, CEO of National Accident Helpline said:
"Today's roundtable has allowed us to develop a clear set of actions that will help to eradicate the use of unethical marketing throughout the personal injury sector. However, achieving this goal will require a truly industry-led approach, and we'll continue to work alongside other signatories of the Charter to drive the campaign forward and to encourage others to sign up."