SIF distorting market claims Michael Beloff

Michael Beloff QC has attacked the Law Society's Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) for restricting and distorting competition under European Community law.

Beloff's advice was requested by the November Group, which is campaigning against compulsory professional indemnity insurance.

Beloff also says that SIF is “the creation and puppet of the Law Society” and through it the body “controls the market, both insurance and legal”.

His advice comes as a report for the Law Society by insurance consultancy Aon finds that a mutual fund would struggle to co-exist with approved open market insurance without a number of safety measures in place.

The Aon report was commissioned following the results of a Law Society consultation last year (The Lawyer 15 September).

The results revealed no majority decision on either an open market or a mutual fund, prompting the Law Society to examine the viability of running a dual indemnity fund.

A spokesperson at the Law Society, which is due to hold a council meeting on the insurance scheme on 20 January, says Beloff's views echo those of solicitor Michael Dalton. Dalton will take the issue to the European Court depending on the results of a judicial review.

The spokesperson says: “The society is confident it will successfully defend itself in the Dalton case. SIF is not for the benefit of solicitors. The Law Society is exercising a power to provide consumer protection.”