Insurers wade into Akzo row

Insurers have declared that underwriting non-European lawyers looking to run competition cases in the EU would be almost untenable due to the Akzo Nobel ruling.


Insurers have declared that underwriting non-European lawyers looking to run competition cases in the EU would be almost untenable due to the Akzo Nobel ruling.

The assertion follows news of a senior silk’s opinion arguing that non-European Economic Area lawyers do not have privilege in EU competition cases (The Lawyer, 18 February).

Leading solicitors’ professional indemnity insurers warned that underwriters would be more cautious when insuring firms trying to merge EU and non-EU competition practices following Akzo Nobel.

Claims legal manager at Travelers John Kunzler said: “Where there’s a merger bet-ween a UK firm and a non-EU law firm, if the interpretation in the opinion is correct and the ruling stands, then it would be more difficult to offer a service in the competition field. There can’t be the same certainty over legal advice privilege compared with a firm composed of UK or EU lawyers only.” But another insurer told The Lawyer that some underwriters say anything is insurable at the right premium, so there will always be cover available.

“This is a high-risk venture,” he said, “so those premiums would be extremely high, resulting in some seeing this as making a non-European lawyer EU competition practice untenable.”