Some solicitors may be practising without insurance

 

SOME SOLICITORS may be practising without insurance since last month.

This follows difficulties in obtaining professional indemnity insurance due to the global financial crisis and the impact of large claims arising from some instances of property-related malpractice in the legal profession.

The deadline for taking out professional indemnity insurance expired at the beginning of December, but some solicitors had not received quotes by then.

At the time the director general of the Law Society, Ken Murphy, told The Irish Timesthat those who got quotes and reinsured could have it backdated to December 1st, but it would be impossible to know how many failed to obtain insurance until the renewal of practising certificates takes place this month.

Asked yesterday if there were solicitors practising without insurance, Mr Murphy told The Irish Timesthat it was possible, but it was not possible to know how many.

“They are not doing so to our knowledge,” he said. If they were, the Law Society would take action.

He said that the insurers were providing a list of those who had renewed their insurance, and from that the society would try to establish who had not.

Having such insurance is a condition of renewing a practising certificate.

If solicitors continued to practise without insurance “we will take action against them, through the courts if necessary,” he said. Although the Law Society is the regulatory body for solicitors, only the High Court can strike a solicitor off the Roll of Solicitors, after it has been asked to do so by the Law Society or the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Asked last month about the danger of clients having to sue an uninsured solicitor arising out of liability incurred in the coming months, Mr Murphy said most of the insurance claims in 2009 arose out of commercial property transactions, very few of which were taking place, so this was unlikely to arise.