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16 November 2022
Author: David Rankin

Automation to deliver access to justice and redress for millions

Pioneering technology set to transform class action market

The daughter of a colleague of mine is in her first year with a law firm, learning the ropes with the conveyancing partner.

If you’ve been following property headlines, you’ll know it’s been a busy time. Still, with much of the process online, it’s bound to be more streamlined than it used to be, surely?

In the main it is, everything progresses without what, up until fairly recently, used to be Dickensian sheaves of paperwork.

Until, that is, one particular lender is in the frame.

This high street bank does not carry out mortgage business on the internet. Instead, lawyers have to fax them. In the 21st century.

Just let it sink in. Today’s enormous business of bricks and mortar traded, securitised and financed on millions of lines of constantly interacting code.

That is, until it vaporises on contact with a chugging piece of A4 slowly printing and unfurling from something which looks like it belongs on’70s science fiction show Blakes Seven. All shaky sets and the alien landscapes of what was really a gravel pit in Essex.

This Luddite quirk has been given even more resonance by Ofcom going through the motions and consulting on whether or not telecoms companies still need to offer businesses a dedicated fax line. Will the finance-only-by-fax bank in question object, one wonders?

So despite the remorseless transition to cyberspace commerce, dust-covered corners still exist to bring what should be a seamless process to an analogue halt.

I labour the point because it throws into sharp relief the very real advances in automation in the legal world in which we are involved.

Punter Southall Analytics processes data at scale: quickly, accurately and efficiently, making smart use of technology.

We combine our analytical capabilities with the subject matter expertise accumulated within Punter Southall to help corporates, trustees and consumers recover historical losses through mediation or formal litigation.

And when physical information on this scale needs the equivalent of a warehouse, rather than a filing cabinet, it’s clear that an automated, online solution is critically important.

Which is one of the reasons we invested in FinLegal in 2021. In designing and developing an end-to-end online claim management system, it swerves spreadsheets, eliminates endless phone calls and minimises non-essential human input.

These promises are routinely made for online solutions of every stripe but when you consider the sheer depth and volume of analysis we undertake, for example, on interest rate miscalculation and for whom - potentially millions of consumers - it becomes clear how vital it is.

FinLegal’s chief executive, Steve Shinn, puts it best.

We no longer need call centres full of claims managers. Using the solution, a handful of people can efficiently onboard and manage 50,000 claimants or more. This would have been unimaginable even five years ago in the absence of the technology that is now available. The thing people say to me most is ‘I wish I’d met you years ago’.

“Tech alone is turning a specialist area of litigation into a much larger market that aids regulation and provides access to justice and redress for millions of people”.

The direction of travel is only one way. Advances will continue to be made to deliver even more efficiency and capability and, as Steve indicates, potentially mean a great deal to those it serves.

It’s why we doubled our investment in FinLegal this year. Even in a world where fax machines are still actually used, the opportunities to identify, analyse and quantify what corporates and consumers may be due will only multiply.

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