Michelle Hannen

Biba will meet officials from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Federation of Small Business next week to discuss ongoing problems in the Northern Ireland employers' liability (EL) market.

Biba technical services manager Peter Staddon said that while the EL market on the mainland has improved since early in 2003, the Northern Ireland market remained difficult for high-risk industries such as scaffolding and roofing, with both the price and availability of cover an issue.

"Capacity is very, very limited in the local market," he said.

Staddon said one possible option was to enable businesses with personal accident cover to pay lower EL rates. "It gives flexibility and options," he said.

He said Biba is also trying to persuade its partner insurers to re-enter the Northern Ireland EL market.