Suspended firms back on Axa panel

Berrymans Lace Mawer and Kennedys are returning to Axa’s panel after the insurer finally lifted a six-month suspension on the two firms.

Kennedys’ Brentwood off-ice and Berrymans’ London office had been prohibited from handling any high volume claims litigation work for the insurer earlier this year after they failed to comply with protocol (The Lawyer, 24 January).

However, after an extensive re-auditing exercise, both practices are again receiving work from Axa.

Professor Martin Read, the former chief executive of Weightmans who has been retained by Axa and by Norwich Union (now CGNU following its merger with CGU), carried out the re-audit.

He says: “I can confirm on behalf of Axa that the suspension on Berrymans’ London office and Kennedys’ Brentwood office has been lifted.”

It is not clear how much revenue the firms have lost during the six-month period. As well as being prohibited from handling claims litigation, neither were allowed to deal with agency work, where cases are sub-contracted out by other panel firms.

One source says: “With a major client like that it would be a serious amount.”

It is understood that the firms were originally suspended for neglecting to adhere to certain standards including the response time for handling claims.

Axa is currently undertaking a major review in a bid to reduce its 30-plus panel.

In May the insurer shook up the legal profession by demanding rebates from its firms when it thought it was overcharged. According to sources, one firm was asked to pay back as much as £50,000.