SIF management should be farmed out to private sector

THE management of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) should be farmed out to the private sector, argued Law Society treasurer Robert Sayer.

Sayer has told The Lawyer that private firms specialising in running mutual funds should be invited to tender for the responsibility of managing SIF.

There are around half a dozen specialist mutual fund managers, one of which, Bar Mutual, manages the Bars indemnity fund.

Sayer said that under a tendering arrangement the jobs of most of SIFs staff would be safe, although he acknowledged its managers might be affected.

An increasingly vocal critic of SIF, Sayer is particularly angry at its failure to warn solicitors before its shock announcement earlier this year of a u450m shortfall. If you run an insurance company and you see a catastrophe happening, you give a bit of guidance, said Sayer.

A committee headed by Law Society council member John Appleby will report in December on future options for running SIF. It is understood that tendering out SIFs management is one option which the Appleby Committee will table.

Sayer denied he was trying to pre-empt Applebys report, insisting he was only expressing a personal view. SIF chief executive Elizabeth Mullins reacted coolly, saying: I do not intend to debate the future of SIF staff, management or otherwise, in the legal press.