Manchester Law Soc calls for claims penalties

The Manchester Law Society has passed a resolution calling on Chancery Lane not to tolerate solicitors with bad Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) claims records.

President Robin Ince said the society wanted increased contributions for the 400 UK firms with the worst claims records.

“It may well have the effect that they cannot afford to carry on practising,” said Ince.

He said there was a feeling of resentment about the huge increase of up to 50 per cent in SIF contributions.

So far around 40 firms have requested SIF's waiver form which gives instructions on how to get an exemption from contributing.

Andrew Darby, who heads the Law Society's professional indemnity section, said the number of requests was up on previous years although it was not “unusually high”.

The waiver outlines four possible exemption categories: to remedy an injustice caused by an anomaly created by SIF rules; to alleviate serious hardship; where the absence of a waiver would involve a breach of Indemnity Rules; and any other “wholly exceptional” case.

But Darby warned that the waiver policy did not exist to allow solicitors to avoid paying their contributions.