Recovery First – Background

The concept for Recovery First came from its managing director, David Johnstone and operations director, Sally Dunscombe, based on their firsthand experience of running off books of claimant personal injury (PI) work.

David was a director of the Scheme Administrator for a business that provided loan funding to firms of solicitors.  In 2008, the loan book was placed into run off and it was necessary to follow the cases through to conclusion to ensure the recovery of the loan.  This experience, particularly with those firms that had failed or exited the personal injury arena, led to the idea of Recovery First.

Meanwhile, Sally was managing director of asb aspire, the volume PI claimant arm of asb law (and a client of David), which was placed into run off under her leadership.
Working together, they developed the idea of panel firms and the benefits of breaking the work up across a number of parties.

Niche market

Recognising that for insolvency practitioners, accountants, restructuring and corporate recovery specialists, PI is just one small sector of their work, Recovery First was designed to be used as a resource with specialist knowledge of this market.

Working with Recovery First means advisers are able to build the relationship with their client, while using our expertise and experience of the business economics and legislative changes in the PI industry.

We know those solicitors you work with, who are exiting the industry, face many challenges as they attempt to realise the value that has been built up in their business.  Likewise, we realise banks and lenders also face challenges when attempting to exit a relationship with a business in a distressed situation.

  • Running off a book involves significant cost and is fraught with motivational and behaviour drivers
  • Reducing the size of a team in line with the outstanding case loads is challenging and makes it difficult to maximise efficiencies and maintain profitability
  • Retaining key staff is difficult as good employees will resign rather than wait to be pushed (unless heavily incentivised)
  • Staff not looking to move on their own terms will maximise case duration as opposed to seeking settlement and liquidating the asset

Recovery First has therefore devised a structured and manageable process that allows a smooth period of transition for all involved and is already working with a number of firms throughout the UK, managing the recovery of the value in books of personal injury business to maximise the value extracted from WIP.

Meet The Team

profile picture of david johnstone

David Johnstone – Managing Director

As a director of a litigation funding business strategically placed into run off in 2008, David has experienced first hand the challenges faced when exiting the Personal Injury arena. That loan book has been run off across a significant number of legal firms, some of which subsequently failed and the loans have therefore been followed through administrations and other insolvency arrangements to case conclusion.

This experience highlights the need for strong and structured administration, combined with the need to remain close to the individual cases and a detailed understanding of bill drafting, to ensure the maximum financial recovery is achieved over time.

David brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from managing businesses involved in the civil litigation arena, together with financial, analytical and legal services experience.


Sally Dunscombe - Operations Director

Sally Dunscombe – Operations Director

Sally developed the initial idea for Recovery First along with David Johnstone. Sally brings a wealth of operational management and strategic guidance to the network, from a career spanning 30 years. She looks after the day-to-day management of the Group. Of particular relevance is her experience as MD of asb aspire, the volume pi claimant arm of asb law, placed into run off in 2009 under Sally’s stewardship. Sally is also utilising her operational experience as the Operations Director of Annecto Legal, which offers free advice on commercial litigation funding, to businesses seeking to minimize the costs and risks of taking legal action.

Sally can be contacted by telephone on 07774 205870


Alan Johnstone – IT Director

Alan Johnstone – IT Director

Alan brings experience across a broad range of areas, with a strong focus on IT over the last 10 years. David and Alan have worked together on a significant number of IT and financial reporting projects, including web based systems involving access for clients, suppliers and customers to provide seamless real time operational reporting capabilities in the personal injury sector.