In defence of SIF

Write to: The Editor, The Lawyer, 50 Poland Street, London W1V 4AX, fax 0171 578 7249, e-mail, DX44700 Soho Square.

I joined SIF's Board in September 1997 having spent much of my career as a chartered accountant dealing with the professional indemnity insurance problems of accountants in general and my old firm Coopers & Lybrand in particular.

I am struck by a number of misconceptions from those who attack SIF and want it replaced.

The huge deficit was not caused by SIF. It was the result of the massive growth in claims against solicitors. The accountancy profession had a similar experience in the 1980s.

The insurance market proved equally slow to recognise the full horror of the situation and made large losses on accountant indemnity insurance. Premium rates soared as many insurers ceased to underwrite such insurance. If the situation had been recognised earlier by SIF, the losses would still have been the same, the cost to the profession would simply have been passed on earlier in the form of higher contributions.

If the commercial market had borne the past losses it is unlikely that it would be offering cheap insurance to many solicitors today.

Tim Lawrence, Slough, Berkshire