Solicitors’ PI business may suffer as Mark Bracher is tipped to join rival.

The managing director of Lockton Professions in Bristol, Mark Bracher, has quit the broker, fuelling speculation he could join a rival.

Bracher has been placed on six months’ gardening leave and is believed to be considering a return to the market. He was unavailable for comment.

Lockton Professions is a division of Lockton International, which was called Alexander Forbes until its acquisition by Lockton in August 2006.

Bracher’s departure will be seen as a blow for Lockton Professions, particularly with the October deadline approaching for renewal of solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance.

A source close to the company said solicitors’ PI was one of its biggest lines. “It could not be a worse time. The loss of that book would put the business under increasing pressure,” the source said.

“Mark was responsible for many of the key accounts in the Bristol office and he is the common link all the way through and ever since the solicitors’ business began in the late 1990s.”

A Lockton spokesman said: “We are recruiting more very senior people to replace Mark at the moment. They will be coming in soon.”

The Bristol office currently employs 24 people.

In November 2007 Lockton appointed Lorraine Boyle to head its Professions business in the regions. She is based in the Edinburgh office.

Lockton has recently made three appointments to the Edinburgh office. Mark Gray, a claims advocate, and Siobhan Fogarty and David Tully, both senior client executives and producers, have joined from Marsh.

In February 2007, a Legal Risk survey found Marsh had knocked Lockton off the top spot in the league table of the biggest PI brokers. Marsh claimed a market share of 37% in 2006 while Lockton’s share was 23%.

Global broker Lockton is headed by David Lockton, chairman, John Lumelleau, president and chief executive, Mike Hammond, chairman of Lockton International, and Mike Frost, chief operating officer.