Axa suspends Berrymans and Kennedys for protocol breach

Berrymans' London office and Kennedys' Brentwood branch were suspended after an audit found that the two firms failed to comply with certain protocols set out by Axa for panel firms that handle high volume insurance litigation claims.

The firm's offices are also not allowed to deal with agency work – new claims which have been sub-contracted out by other panel firms – until the problems have been rectified.

One industry source says: "I've never heard of such a thing. Our clients do not specify who we can or cannot use on an agency basis."

Axa's is currently reviewing its 30-plus panel as part of a rationalisation drive. The panel is expected to be substantially reduced.

Nick Thomas, senior partner at Kennedys, says: "With our Brentwood office [Axa] was not 100 per cent happy with the work we were doing. They put a moratorium on sending new work to us."

But he says: "Axa is giving us the chance to put it right and have told us to tell [the auditor] when to come back."

Thomas says he is confident the firm will rectify the issues uncovered by the audit, "It is a slap on the wrist but it is a slap on the wrist from a friend," he says.

Terry Renouf, insurance partner at Berrymans, says: "We can confirm that there has been an audit. We have discussed the results of that audit and we have remedied the points it has raised."

It is understood that both Berrymans and Kennedy's offices are still receiving work on existing claims they have historically dealt with.

Other panel firms include Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Cartwrights and Merricks