Trio of silks fights insurance competition test case

Silks James Goudie QC, Nigel Giffin QC and John Howell QC and law firms Weightmans and Halliwells are acting in a test case over an insurance scheme that could save £150,000 for every council in England and Wales.

The challenge concerns not-for-profit mutual company London Authorities Mutual Limited (LAML), which was launched to pool authorities’ spend on insurance premiums for risk of fire, damage and general loss on claims worth more than £1m.

Insurer Risk Management Partners (RMP) issued proceedings against the London Borough of Brent to establish whether local authorities can insure themselves through a mutual rather than go through a commercial tendering process, after Brent called off a tender exercise RMP was involved in, in favour of joining the scheme.

London Borough of Harrow principal solicitor for litigation Helen White, who is representing the borough as an interested party, said: “This is our equivalent of Credit Suisse v Waltham Forest London Borough Council,” referring to a 1997 landmark test case on ultra vires.

Harrow director of legal and governance services Hugh Peart said the FSA-registered scheme will save each member approximately £150,000 a year in premiums, and the objective was to expand it to as many councils as possible.

Harrow, Brent and Tower Hamlets are already insured under the scheme, while Camden, Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kingston-Upon-Thames and Lambeth plan to join when existing contracts with private insurers expire.

Halliwells has instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Howell to advise RMP, while LAML is being represented by a Weightmans team led by Liverpool-based partner Michael Green, instructing Goudie of 11KBW. Brent is using an in-house team led by principal lawyer for litigation Arnold Meagher, and has instructed Giffen, also of 11KBW.