Marsh is reviewing its UK retail panels, bringing most top name law firms in for interview.

However, some have accused Marsh of milking them for client names to advance their own business.

The review is not expected to be completed until late in 2003.

UK retail claims head Laurence Ives confirmed a review had been undertaken.

"Marsh regularly conducts reviews of all our client service providers in line with client requirements," he said.

"The current review of our recommended legal panel of companies is a part of Marsh's overall review of service providers, which is a part of our claims strategy."

UK retail is understood to also comprise a loss adjusting panel, which is under review as well.

Berrymans Lace Mawer, Hill Dickinson, Hugh James, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, DLA, Beachcroft Wansbroughs and Barlow Lyde Gilbert are among the high-profile firms believed to have been approached.

Sources said the issues under discussion included the capacity for work available, the classes of business they dealt with, service levels, costings and the insurer panels they were already on.

However, they said inquiries about their corporate clients featured heavily.

Some sources said they felt Marsh expected a "quid pro quo" deal, with access to their prestige clients in return for a place on the panel.

Others said Marsh could be pushing for them to take their professional indemnity cover through Marsh.

  • Marsh has released its update on Pool Re, advising that premiums may also double from those charged before August 2002.

    In July 2002, the government changed the role and operation of pool Re to act like a traditional proportional treaty reinsurer that will assume a percentage of the liability the direct insurer accepted from the insured.

    Marsh pointed out this meant Pool re members would be able to underwrite risks at a directly-chosen rate, which may result in a premium more than double than that charged before the changes were introduced.