Indemnity revolt hits Law Society

MEMBERS of the Law Society's ruling council have snubbed the society's leaders by telling them to redraft a consultation paper on the crisis at the Solicitors Indemnity Fund.

During a secret meeting last week, council members lined up to attack the paper, claiming it needed to be fleshed out with more detail before members of the profession could make a reasoned judgement on the best way forward.

The policy committee – the Law Society's cabinet – will now have to rewrite the document, delaying consultation on the issue by at least a month – when the council holds its next meeting.

The paper suggests three possible ways forward for the profession: sticking with SIF, adopting the multi-fund proposal put forward by council member John Appleby's working party, or the open market option under which firms would be required to insure with “approved insurers”.

In a letter to council members before the meeting, former president Martin Mears, who favours the open market option, said: “Indemnity insurance is a highly technical subject and I, for one, feel myself wholly unqualified to appraise the various options set out in the consultation paper.”

Speaking after the meeting Appleby said the policy committee would do its utmost to produce a balanced paper.

Meanwhile, the November Group of commercial firms is planning to ask brokers Nelson Hurst & Marsh to beef up a report it presented to the group last week by providing more detailed statistical information. The report, compiled by the brokers for the November Group – which supports the open market option – claimed a variety of firms could achieve savings of at least 40 per cent from commercial underwriters.