Not actuary their fault

Your lead story, which was headlined: "SIF shortfall now nearly £500m" (10 June 1997) reminded me of the slings and arrows that can befall even the most seasoned of election campaigners.

Let us be clear as we enter another contested presidential election: the indemnity problem (an understatement, I know) is no more the fault of this year's officeholders than their predecessors.

And it would be wrong if either protagonist was to make capital from it unless, of course, either contender sought to brush it rapidly under the new carpets in Chancery Lane.

Constituents to whom I have spoken in Surrey have drawn a parallel with the Lloyd's Names fiasco.

The inference is, first, that there is a very real risk that some firms won't be able to pay. For some unfortunate solicitors, personal bankruptcy might be a very real and frightening prospect.

Second, there is the question of mismanagement. Was all the right expertise brought to bear on the issue while the problems were quietly unfolding?

As a non-expert, I found the revelation that professional actuaries had not been consulted by the Solicitors Indemnity Fund when setting the level of contributions each year rather alarming. To then be told that this was "standard industry practice" took the biscuit! What else are actuaries for?

Anthony Bogan

Bogan Gilson