SIF deserves a better press

Your headline, "SIF condemned by large firms" (The Lawyer, 7 July), implies that not a single large commercial firm out of the top 1,200 wished to keep the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF). I am not aware that you asked this firm, which is in the top 100, and your headline is misleading because it implies that you asked all firms.

We support the retention of SIF. We declare an interest as a panel firm but we have endeavoured to put that to one side in addressing the main issues, which affect us in the same way as they affect other firms – the terms and the cost of cover.

We cannot ignore issues such as continuity of cover. Our experience when acting for other professional indemnity insurers is that policy issues are a frequent problem.

Small firms and sole practitioners, in particular, derive enormous benefit from the free run-off cover which applies after they retire from private practice. It is all very well saying that commercial insurers will consider providing it – but for how long and who will pay the premium?

Dishonesty claims are rightly a source of major concern to the profession; the procedure for SIF to notify the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors would not be possible if there were a multitude of insurers.

Consistency in claims handling has achieved success in stemming the flow of claims by lenders.

I shall be pleasantly surprised if you publish this letter because you seem intent on pursuing a campaign without full regard to the issues.

I have attended one Law Society road show and a meeting of the Liverpool Law Society on the issues; it is a matter of major concern to me that few practitioners bothered to attend and the outcome of the debate may therefore be influenced by prejudicial publicity such as yours.

Frank R Maher, partner

Weightmans, Liverpool