Moves to outlaw predatory claim farming of SA’s most vulnerable

SA Gov

A predatory money making practice that seeks to profit off the suffering of victims would be outlawed under proposed new laws from the State Labor Government.

The Government is consulting on draft legislation aimed at banning ‘claim farming’ – the practice where a business receives a kickback for referring an injured client to a law firm.

The practice is reported to occur in a number of personal injury fields, but was most recently highlighted in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, with a number of victims of child sex abuse reporting being cold-called or receiving unsolicited mail from law firms or other businesses soliciting for potential clients in compensation claims.

The proposed laws, subject to further changes through consultation, would see anyone who engages in claim farming in relation to a personal injury claim being fined up to $50,000 and, in the case of a legal practitioner engaging in the practice, face potential disciplinary action.

As put by Kyam Maher

Unfortunately, a number of predatory, exploitative operators have sought to take advantage of vulnerable South Australians by entering the ‘survivor advocacy business’ – seeking to make a quick buck off someone else’s trauma.

They often target vulnerable cohorts or communities, and use high-pressure tactics that often equate to harassment or intimidation. They may use misleading or dishonest tactics to discourage victim-survivors from using the freely available legal assistance services which take a trauma-informed approach.

While most recent reports tend to indicate the practice is not commonly employed in South Australia, there are concerns that increasing regulations in other jurisdictions are seeing these unscrupulous operators look to establish themselves in locations where the practice is still legal, which is why it is imperative we act now.

This will send a clear message to these ruthless opportunists that we will not tolerate this behaviour and do all we can to protect victims.

As put by Jackie Mead, CEO knowmore Legal Service

This proposed law is welcomed by knowmore Legal Service and indicates that the South Australian Government is serious about tackling claim farming. This law now needs bi-partisan support to be enacted and then must be actively enforced to bring this predatory practice to an end.

South Australians should be proud that their Government is taking a stand against this unscrupulous practice. knowmore Legal Service advocates for survivors of child sexual abuse and has been calling on all Australian jurisdictions to prevent claim farming in a coordinated fashion. South Australia is set to follow Queensland in protecting some of Australia’s most vulnerable populations from exploitation.

knowmore Legal Service has long been advocating for these legislative changes. Whilst we commend the South Australian Government on this draft bill, we now call on all South Australian parliamentarians and law enforcement agencies to get behind this reform and actively bring claim farming to an end. There can be no meaningful impact without enforcement.

knowmore Legal Service hopes that news of this draft bill reaches all Attorneys-General across Australia. We ask that all lawmakers across Australia collectively turn their attention to protecting some of the most vulnerable individuals from the practice of claim farming. The financial, emotional and psychological toll that claim farming is taking is too high. End the abuse of the abused by law firms who seek to profit from claim farming.

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