Legal expenses insurer Abbey Legal Protection has cut its premium rate for employment dispute cover by 50%, in an aggressive bid for market share.

The move coincides with research this week revealing that the number of employment tribunal hearings has broken more than 100,000 for the first time (see page 9). This is blamed on new employment red tape and an increasingly litigious society.

Abbey hopes to substantially increase its £150,000 book of employment-led commercial legal expenses, which amounts to ten per cent of its commercial legal expenses package book.

Leo Gibbons, business development manager at Abbey Legal, said: "We have found that the quality of advice provided to employers is directly related to the number of cases that end up in tribunal."

Usually, Abbey package policies contain six options: contracts, employment, tax, criminal proceedings, data protection and property cover.

If policyholders choose to stop contract cover, they can benefit from a 20% discount on employment cover.

Under the new arrangement, the discount has been increased to 50%.

A spokesman from rival Eastgate Assistance, which is itself planning to relaunch its commercial legal expenses product, said: "It just goes to show how competitive the market is."