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Consumer brands launch Tesco law prototype

1 November 2010

Two of the high street's most well-known consumer brands have officially set up prototype alternative business structures to offer legal services direct to the public, Solicitors Journal can reveal.

In a move that foreshadows the new legal world order due to go live in October next year, the AA and Saga have entered into tripartite agreements with law firm Cogent Law and technology developers Epoq to provide a near-complete suite of consumer services.

“Consumers, especially online, are besieged by businesses offering off-the-shelf legally related services, without knowing whether the advice being given is sound and reliable,” said Nick Addyman, senior partner at Cogent Law. “Both companies have recognised the opportunity for trusted brands to offer a much broader range of insurance-related services.”

The new range of legal services offered under the AA and Saga brands will be seamlessly delivered by Cogent Law, the claimant arm of the Parabis Law group, using an Epoq platform.

Formed in 2002, Parabis Law is the umbrella firm which also includes Plexus Law – a firm offering defendant services – and a range of end-to-end services to the insurance market such as Argent Rehabilition, which provides rehabilitation and return to work services, and Parabis Ltd, which offers outsourced claims management and consultancy services to the insurance sector.

Cogent Law already provides the legal support for insurance claim services offered by the AA and Saga but the new agreements will widen the range of services offered to include advice on will writing, powers of attorney, landlord and tenant disputes, general consumer claims and matrimonial matters such as undefended divorce proceedings, civil partnerships and prenuptial agreements.

Both organisations have been offering legal services to members but the new range will be open to both members and non-members. The new services will continue to be marketed to members as part of the wider package of services for existing home insurance customers taking up the optional legal expenses insurance, but they will also be marketed to non-members.

The agreements are also the first time a full range of legal services will be delivered directly by solicitors though the brand portal. Customers will be able to go to either of the organisations’ websites, select the service required, go through an online interview and answer a set of questions. The system will generate the relevant document which will be reviewed by the Cogent team.

All businesses involved in the process remain separate entities but the closeness of the cooperation provides a taste of things to come. Falling just short of cross-shareholdings, the agreements are an example of how strong consumer brands could team up with large firms and technology developers to provide low-cost affordable legal services to the general public. At present, organisations like the AA have been offering legal services as an add-on to existing policies but the widening of their legal services offering to stand-alone products will now bring them in direct competition with high street firms.

Categorised in:

Risk & Compliance Professional negligence