Judge backs insurance disclosure plan

LITIGATION lawyers in favour of compulsory disclosure of insurance cover, to save time and money, have the backing of a leading judge.

A proposal put forward at the Centre of Advanced Litigation conference was given qualified support by Mr Justice Otton.

Delegates said money would not be wasted pursuing people unable to pay if defendants put their cards on the table first.

But there is still strong resistance to the idea from insurance lawyers, who say litigation should be based on who is to blame, not who can pay.

Berrymans solicitor David Vayro says forcing defendants to reveal their level of cover will “lead to a significant increase in nuisance claims”.

“Insurance premiums will rise as underwriters charge higher premiums to take into account the increased risk of legal action.”

The danger is that plaintiffs will tailor their claims according to what they think they can get away with, not what they are entitled to, he says.

But Fraser Whitehead, partner with Russell Jones & Walker, says: “The court rules are stacked in the defendant's favour. Plaintiffs have to disclose when they have legal aid and a plaintiff's financial standing is a fundamental consideration for the insurance industry when fighting a case.”

“Plaintiffs need to know when it is cost-effective to sue a defendant for compensation. Those without legal aid cannot afford to tilt at windmills.”