Law Society seeks insurers for indemnity after key player exits

QBE will no longer provide cover for solicitor firms with revenue under €5m

 Law Society of Ireland on Blackhall Place: Solicitors’ firms are obliged to have in place cover for €1.5 million for each and every claim. Photograph: Eric Luke

Law Society of Ireland on Blackhall Place: Solicitors’ firms are obliged to have in place cover for €1.5 million for each and every claim. Photograph: Eric Luke

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The Law Society says it is working to attract new insurers into the market for professional indemnity insurance (PII) for Irish solicitors, after a large insurance company walked away from the market for smaller firms.

QBE insurance group has told the Law Society it will no longer provide PII cover for solicitors firms with annual revenue of less than €5 million. Solicitors cannot legally represent their clients without indemnity cover in place and QBE’s exit leaves many smaller firms scrambling for alternative providers ahead of a December 1st deadline, by which all firms must have it in place.

Approved list

All law firms practising in Ireland are obliged to submit paperwork showing they have PII cover each year to the Law Society, the regulatory body for solicitors, which runs a PII scheme with an approved list of insurers.

Solicitors’ must provide evidence of PII cover each year at the beginning of December and the Law Society tells firms that the date is “non negotiable”. According to insurance industry sources, there is an annual rush at that time of year among law firms to brokers and insurers looking for cover.

The Law Society this week said its president, Mayo solicitor James Cahill, would issue a bulletin to firms affected by QBE’s pullout. The society advised firms affected to contact brokers and said it was committed to “improving the renewal experience” of firms.

Statutory obligation

The regulatory body approved eight insurance firms last year to provide PII to Irish solicitors, but some refuse to provide it to small firms. AIB, for example, would only provide cover last year to firms with at least three partners.

Solicitors’ firms are obliged to have in place cover for €1.5 million for each and every claim. This is a statutory obligation even for the smallest firms, although larger ones would generally purchase higher cover. The Law Society said in 2019 that more than 2,000 law firms in Ireland practise with fewer than five solicitors each.

This article was amended on August 27th

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