INSURANCE lawyers are seeking urgent changes to the law to protect clients from solicitors who try to push them into conditional fee agreements (CFAs) for the sake of winning bigger success fees.
Martin Bruffell, president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil), says 17 million Britons have legal expenses insurance attached to their home, car or credit card insurance, but most are not aware of it.
Instead of checking whether clients have such insurance, Bruffell says solicitors are tying clients to CFAs where they can claim a success fee for winning. “It seems to us that CFAs are being encouraged because it allows lawyers to add an extra sum to their bill if they're successful. That way, they get more money for the same job.
“We believe it is fraudulent, or even negligent, for a solicitor not to look at all possible funding options before advising a claimant on what route they should take.”
Bruffell has raised the idea of a new professional conduct rule with the Law Society.
He says Lord Hunt of Wirral, head of insurance litigation at Beachcroft Stanleys, is to move an amendment to the Access to Justice Bill requiring solicitors to ensure there is no “duplication of insurance”.
“There is great scope for the misuse of CFAs. It's something Foil intends to take further,” says Bruffell.
A spokeswoman for the Lord Chancellor's Department says Lord Irvine will respond to concerns when Lord Hunt's motion is debated in the House of Lords – probably this week.