Zurich is finalising a new legal panel for catastrophic injury work

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and Kennedys are understood to have been told they are on the panel already, and sources close to Zurich predict that Davies Arnold Cooper, Manchester's James Chap-man & Co and Vizards Wyeth are also in the running.

Catastrophic injury specialists Beachcroft Wansbroughs and Berrymans Lace Mawer denied that they had pitched for the work.

Zurich is not calling the new legal function a 'panel' yet, as it is still carrying out a best practice review to determine how the chosen firms will handle the claims. “We're in the middle of the best practice review, so it's too early to talk about things like panels,” a Zurich spokesperson said.

But firms that have pitched for Zurich's catastrophic injury work are under the impression that they will be involved in an exclusive panel-style arrangement once they receive formal letters of engagement.

Zurich now has five panels. The others are: Zurich Commercial (incorporating Zurich London), Zurich Mun-icipal, Eagle Star Direct and Consumer Intermediaries.

Zurich has been reviewing these panels, which involve 25 law firms, since last April with a view to consolidating them, although the spokesperson from the insurer said no decisions have yet been made.

“We've been reviewing how we outsource all our legal work and haven't come to any definite conclusions,” said the spokesperson.