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SOLICITORS Indemnity Fund managing director John Speedman will retire this year after completing the fund's most radical revamp to date.
Senior colleagues see Speedman, a qualified accountant, as the driving force behind the fund's successful management and major cost reduction, making it one of the cheapest funds to run despite rocketing claims in recent years.
This cost reduction, from 6 per cent in 1992 to 2.25 per cent last year, led to the SIF being used as a model by lawyers in other jurisdictions, including the Attorney General of New South Wales last year.
John Hayes, Law Society out-going secretary general, said: "John Speedman is a modest but very effective and well-loved operator. His judge-ments are very sound and undoubtedly he commands the loyalty of his staff. He took the indemnity work in-house, and he substantially reduced the cost of handling claims."
SIF company secretary Andrew Derby said: "He's played an important role in developing the fund from its initial stages to where we are now."
Speedman, now 63, joined as technical director in 1989 while London Insurance Brokers (LIB) still ran the fund. He became MD in 1991 when the SIF took the administration work in-house.
Premiums totalled £75 million in 1987 when the SIF was formed, but soared to £167 million in five years because of growth in claims. It is now at £195 million.
In 1976 premiums were only £7 million. Claims more than doubled to 3,500 in 10 years and the 1986 premium was £54 million.