Takeovers and regulation will top the agendas of many brokers attending the Biba conference, says Andy Cook

It is no surprise that more brokers than ever before are going to Biba's conference this year, which starts in Bournemouth this morning. And, while many will be going to try to find out what other brokers are doing to move towards FSA compliance, many will be going to find out what plans their rivals and colleagues have for mergers and acquisitions.

As Insurance Times reported last week, most brokers are not sure exactly how much they will learn from the formal sessions. After all, these sessions have to be generic and naturally will work on the principle of the lowest common denomentor, because there is no point assuming too much knowledge and cutting off people who have paid good money to attend.

However, the best knowledge interchange will be in the restaurants and bars around Bournemouth, where insurers will be outlining what they can do to help and brokers will be pumping each other for titbits that could help them.

It is certain too that new networks will spring from this conference. Already many new networks have been touted, with Stuart Alexander revealing its hand this week (see news section).

It is inevitable that informal chats at Biba will lead to a sense that compliance best practice can be shared on a more formal basis. OK, the risk cannot really be ameliorated as none of the networks looks ready to assume compliance for its members, but the reassurance of a problem shared is welcome.

It is a notable week, too, for our industry's other great issue - employers' liability. CBI director general Digby Jones and ABI director general Mary Francis have written to Gordon Brown. This follows the government's deafening silence over employers' liability since being prodded into action at the end of last year.

Francis and Jones are calling for the government to set up a working party to look at how legal costs can be reduced.

In particular, Francis and Jones want the government to look at a system of fixed legal costs, such as those being implemented by the Master of the Rolls for small motor personal injury claims.

This would fit in nicely with a personal injury board, similar to that which has been set up in the Republic of Ireland (see news section) and which is being considered by ABI, as revealed by Insurance Times last week.

Insurance Times is also furthering action on employers' liability. This week sees the start of a series of opinion pieces designed to prompt further action.

Many in the industry reckon that our industry has given the government too many solutions to the liability crisis and that if we want action sooner, rather than later, we should narrow down the options.

In the first column, (see page 14) Airmic chairman David Ireland argues, from a personal point of view, why a no-fault solution would be the best.