Here today, gone tomorrow

Andy Talbot Arag

In 2016, it was AU Insurance Services. Last summer, it was Elite Insurance Company. Already in 2018, New Zealand’s CBL Insurance Limited has collapsed, leaving Alpha Insurance A/S in solvent liquidation and run-off. Often, it seems, these failures impacting the legal expenses sector get associated with the after-the-event insurance market, somehow remote from the majority of brokers. But most legal expenses underwriters, wherever they are based, will have feet in both after- and before-the-event camps. The precise causes and circumstances of these failures (and the several others that have occurred in between them) may be very different, but they have all left brokers, other intermediaries and their clients in the lurch.

March 15th, 2018

The fear of speaking out

David Vine 3

I am sure that many of us read with horror the findings of the review into the Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust by Dr Bill Kirkup. He reported that every part of the system failed, leading to patients suffering “significant harm”, and this happened as the trust was considering what it could learn from the Mid Staffordshire scandal. I don’t want this blog to be yet another hammering of the NHS, but rather highlight the need in whatever industry we’re in, public or private, for an open, no-blame culture to exist. It is the only way to learn and improve. Time and time again we read of the fear of speaking out.

March 9th, 2018

Working out the price of justice

Christopher Deadman 2

There have been a few threads on social media recently where claimant solicitors have complained that litigation finance is often too expensive for it to represent a viable funding option for their clients. There is no doubt that, in the early years, litigation funding was aggressively priced. But as new players have entered the market with access to ever-increasing amounts of capital, the costs have reduced considerably. The days of every funder requiring a return based on a significant portion of the claimant’s damages are an almost-distant memory.

March 1st, 2018

Avoiding the trap of fixed costs in high-value claims

David Disney

Have you been caught out by fixed costs on a high-value RTA or EL/PL claim that settled prior to allocation to the multi-track? Over the past couple of months, we have seen this issue arise on a number of occasions. So, in what circumstances do fixed recoverable costs (FRC) under part IIIA of CPR 45 apply to high-value claims? They apply if a claim was submitted through the portal but no longer continues under the relevant protocol and the matter is not allocated to the multi-track. This is the scenario we are finding to be quite common in practice and something which practitioners should become familiar with in order to avoid the pitfalls of fixed costs.

February 23rd, 2018

The misleading claims behind the campaign to lower the discount rate

Matthew Best Temple Legal Protection

A coalition of organisations which represent the NHS and health professionals has made strong claims in a letter to justice secretary David Gauke that the legal costs of clinical negligence claims are crippling the NHS. Similar comments were made by the National Audit Office (NAO) in September last year and yet the case doesn’t hold water. The letter was signed by the NHS Confederation, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, British Medical Association, Family Doctors Association, Medical Protection Society, Medical Defence Union and the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland.

February 9th, 2018

A year of opportunity

Matthew Pascall Temple Legal

As we move forward into 2018, litigation costs are expected to be in the spotlight and we hope to get further clarity over how the LASPO changes are applied in practice with regard to proportionality. Last year saw a similar message delivered by all sides of the legal sector during the Legal Futures Innovation Conference: the marketplace is evolving with greater rapidity, technology is becoming increasingly relevant, and ambitious new firms are looking to offer added value in order to secure long-term client relationships.

January 16th, 2018

Litigation – art or science?

Christopher Deadman 2

What about a directory and a set of awards based on actual performance and measured by objective data? What a fabulous marketing tool that would be for firms brave enough to admit that they are in a results business. How good it would be to see firms boasting about how they win 95% of cases which come to court or settle 80% of claimant matters within 25% of the original damages sought. But the really innovative work, at least from a funder’s perspective, is the role that artificial intelligence can play in predicting the outcome of litigation.

January 4th, 2018

Positive change can mitigate the risk of vexatious claims

Laurence Pipkin

Four years ago, the government introduced fees of up to £1,200 for employment tribunal claimants under the premise of reducing the number of malicious and unmeritorious claims. Until the Supreme Court struck them down earlier this year, there was much debate about them. In one corner, the objectors voiced their concern under the ‘access to justice’ banner; in the other corner, the supporters cited the cost to the taxpayer enfeebling the UK, post-recession. Fast-forward four years and the results are now in: the tribunal system has seen a 70% fall in claims but little or no change in the division of outcomes.

December 21st, 2017

All I want for Christmas is…

Stack of documents and papers

This is my valedictory blog for 2017. I am grateful to my loyal reader for enduring the polluted flushings of my diseased mind over the past six months. It has been fun to write and I hope that I have given the reader an insight into the world of a litigation flaneur. Before I bid you happy holidays, I would like to share with you my two wishes for Christmas. For the avoidance of doubt, these relate to litigation finance and not my personal desires, which include a solid gold house, rocket shoes and the power to become invisible at will.

December 12th, 2017

Recovery of post-LASPO ATE premiums: An underwriter’s perspective

David Brown DAS

Despite post-LASPO after-the-event insurance (ATE) policies being more relevant now than ever in terms of access to justice, their premiums receive criticism. But in the case of clinical negligence claims, LASPO explicitly allows for partial recovery of an ATE premium to protect against the risk of a claimant becoming liable for expert reports which address the issue of liability. In the context of increasingly aggressive challenges to ATE insurers’ underwriting methodology, a Court of Appeal judgment last week has reaffirmed a number of key principles that underpin the basis on which ATE insurers operate. This should help increase understanding of a product that some may find esoteric.

December 5th, 2017