Broker network war with Williams ignites

A row has erupted between Hertfordshire-based broker Hamilton Fraser Insurance Solutions and Biba.

The dispute is understood to stem from this year's Biba conference. Hamilton Fraser took out an exhibitor's package in order to promote its network, which will offer members appointed agent status to enable them to avoid direct regulation.

According to Biba chief executive Mike Williams, after initially praising the event, Hamilton Fraser managing director Simon Fox has expressed dissatisfaction with the results achieved. Williams said Fox also accused him of warning brokers away from networks in his opening address.

"All I said was choose your partners for compliance carefully," Williams said.

Fox was unavailable for comment, but Hamilton Fraser director Jonathan Pack said: "Simon [Fox] has been advised by legal advisors not to make any comment at this point in time."

Sources said Fox's real concern involves the announcement that Williams is to leave Biba to set up his own network. They said Fox was required to provide Biba with confidential information about the Hamilton Fraser network in order to exhibit, and is concerned about having disclosed such information to a future competitor.

But Williams said he did not handle information from any conference exhibitor. "The first I'd heard of Mr Fox and his network proposition was after the conference. His proposition was not put to me," he said. "We've invited him to come in and share what his problems are and he has steadfastly refused."

Hamilton Fraser also approached Biba about backing its network. The decision was referred to Biba's General Insurance Brokers Committee, which ruled that Biba would not officially endorse any compliance network. Williams said he was not involved in the decision.