The Freedom to Choose

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Nick Hind, associate solicitor in the personal injury department of Bennett Griffin LLP, Worthing comments:-

“One of the most infuriating aspects of pursuing a claim for both solicitor and client is, having identified for the client that they have legal expenses insurance that could be used to indemnify the costs of a claim, being told by the insurer that the client must instruct one of their panel solicitors to be able to use the insurance that the client has paid for.

We all know why the insurers adopt this position.  If they can direct the client to one of their panel solicitors they receive a nice fat referral fee and can also dictate terms in return.

The High Court has just landed another blow against this rather blatant restrictive practice by ruling that an insurer cannot restrict a client’s freedom to choose their own solicitor on the grounds of cost to the insurer.

The Courts are gradually chipping away the anti-competitive practices of legal expenses insurers, but the big one remains – that of the definition of proceedings and insurers insisting on restricting freedom of choice pre-issue of proceedings.

It all comes down to insurers wanting to protect the referral fee revenue rather than their own customer’s legal interests.

But watch this space”