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Why don't solicitors take out ATE Insurance for all of their PI claims?

With my colleague, Simon Pinner, I used to run a large claimant PI department so I have some experience at the coal face. Our perception of After the Event Insurance available at the time was that it was a pain to apply for and difficult to administer.

We decided not so insure cases (speccing) as we did not want to have an ATE Insurance underwriter constantly looking over our shoulders and telling us what to do. The hassle and administration of having a policy (the application process, reporting on the file, requesting permission to issue etc) in our minds outweighed the benefits (the client was protected against legal costs). We said to ourselves, 'if we lose a case then we will look after the client' - and we always did.

Unfortunately, we hadn't realised that this was actually committing an offence and breaching the solicitor's professional rules (see Adris v Royal Bank of Scotland) although in fact this wasn't why we changed our ways. One day we lost a big case and hence lots of money so we decided to do something about the After the Event Insurance market - and formed Box Legal Limited.

Our scheme operates on the (reasonable) assumption that the person best placed to decide on the prospects of a case is the solicitor, not an underwriter sitting in an office in Gibraltar. The ATE Insurance policies are simple to obtain (the on-line form takes 1 minute to complete) and easy to administer. There are no reporting requirements save to tell us after proceedings are issued and there is no need to ask permission to take any step or incur any disbursement. All we ask in return is that the solicitor stops speccing which, as this is an offence in any event, we think is a reasonable requirement. 

Easy peasey.

Box Legal Limited: After the Event Insurance Providers
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