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Understanding the perils of the professional-indemnity partner

Failing to meet the complex requirements for professional indemnity can be catastrophic for law firms. Successfully managing the process might be the final responsibility of a particular partner but, as Frank Maher, national head of professional indemnity at Weightman Vizards, explains, it is a duty that must involve the co-operation and understanding of the entire firm.

2 June 2003

The role of the professional-indemnity partner used to be fairly simple: fill in a proposal form, wait for a bill from the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF), pass the direct debit to your accounts department, then pass the odd claim to the SIF and maybe your top-up insurer if it looked on the big side.

So what’s changed? Quite a lot actually – several changes have conspired to take up far more time, make the role more fraught with danger and generally detract professional-indemnity partners from the ability to do fee-earning work. Examples of this change include:

  • Obligations to open-market insurers are far more onerous – get it wrong and you may end up without cover or with less cover or a larger excess;
  • You have to notify “circumstances” as well as claims, resulting in far more notifications;
  • Arranging cover is now a far more complex affair and increasing costs mean you have to be smarter in choosing what to recommend yo...

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