The decline in directors' and officers' (D&O) rates will cease by the end of the year, Willis has predicted.

The broker said in its quarterly D&O report that the rate of premium reduction had slowed and that by the year end rates would have reached a "plateau".

In a survey of D&O insurers, all those questioned saw premiums fall over the last three months. But most witnessed falls of less than 10% - less than previously estimated.

Willis also said coverage was improving and "likely to be the broadest for some time" by the end of 2005.

It also predicted that the sector would continue to be a "buyer's market".