Legal body accused of flouting its own rules on recommending insurers

The Law Society may be forced to severties with Abbey Legal after the societywas accused of flagrantly defying its own rules of professional conduct.

The body has been accused of recommending a single legal expenses insurance provider to claimants,despite promising impartiality.

Claimants who contact the Law Society-owned Accident Line Direct are put in contact with a local solicitor who will then recommend they take out after-the-event (ATE) insurance with Abbey Legal.

But,according to Law Society rules,solicitors should not be tied to any individual provider or company (see box)

One member of the Law Society,who wished to remain nameless, said:"It is a solicitor's basic remit to act in the best interests of their client. How can this be achieved if they are commercial bed-fellows with one company and not another?"

It is understood that behind closed doors the Law Society is seriously considering cutting ties with Abbey toavoid a repeat of 2004 's DTI investigation into Law Society rules pertaining to referral fees.

A Law Society spokesperson confirmed the rules were "under review."

Michael Ozon, partner at Mendelsons Solicitors,said:"The Law Society is completely divorced from the profession.It is almost inevitable that solicitors will find themselves yet again needing to justify their position before the Courts in a desperate bid to avoid losing their costs."