Insurers meet ABI for talks before Irvine conference

The UK's three rival “after-the-event” legal insurers met for the first time last week in an attempt to thrash out a common position on conditional fees before discussions with the Lord Chancellor on 2 December.

The private meeting on Friday was convened by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). It is understood that a number of contentious issues were resolved at the discussions, including the attitude of the ABI to “after the event” insurance.

The ABI was said to have been concerned that moves in this direction would cannibalise the traditional legal expenses insurance market.

In an interview before the meeting, Mark Boleat, director-general of the ABI, said that premiums for “after the event” insurance would be expensive because of the potentially large numbers of claims.

The insurers, which include Abbey Legal Protection, Litigation Protect and Greystoke Legal Services, are worried about being able to develop affordable premiums within Lord Irvine's deadline.

One insurer said: “We are not even sure we can agree on a position as there are a lot of commercially sensitive issues at stake.”

However, after the meeting one said he was “now a happy man” as there had been agreement on some important areas.