Published in The Law Society Gazette. 

In common with many solicitors, I receive marketing emails from brokers offering to obtain quotations for professional indemnity insurance. Most claim to have won industry awards, to simplify the process of securing cover and offer lower premiums.

I am unaware of any broker providing an additional service which most firms would find useful – practical advice on avoiding negligence claims.

The claims heard in court (for example, the recent awards against Bird & Bird and Lewis Silkin) are a small minority of the cases in which solicitors’ negligence is alleged. Even then busy practitioners need time to review judgments and extract lessons, such as ensuring adequate supervision, limiting the scope of a retainer, asking for relevant documents and recording advice in letters or attendance notes.

Brokers know a great deal about situations which have prompted solicitors to notify insurers of circumstances which may give rise to a claim. Presumably brokers have very detailed information about those cases in which insurers have paid out. Organising, anonymising and sharing that information should not be an expensive exercise.

Many solicitors would consider working with a broker willing to undertake that exercise and to make helpful recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of negligence claims.

Ronnie Fox, principal, Fox Lawyers, London EC3