Lawyer tells MGAA delegates of latest developments in EL and PL regime

Reg Brown

MGAs need to focus on the changes in the costs regime and processes for handling Employers Liability (EL) and Public Liability (PL) ahead of their implementation in 2013.

That is according to Berrymans Lace Mewer LLP policy development partner Alistair Kinley, who was speaking at the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA) London market briefing earlier this week.

Kinley highlighted a range of developments and changes in the EL and PL claims area, and urged MGAs to consider their implications as a strategic importance.

Kinley said: “The Jackson review of costs will bite, from April 2013, and will change the costs paid in ‘no win, no fee’ claims. Under the reforms, defendants’ insurers will no longer pay for success fees and for legal costs insurance.

“The flip-side of these changes is that awards for general damages may rise - by 10 percent - and that successful defendants will generally no longer recover costs from losing claimants under a system known as qualified one-way costs shifting. MGAs and insurers will need to understand the balance of impacts across their claims portfolio.”

Kinley said the changes were likely to coincide with proposals to introduce a streamlined process for handling moderate value EL and PL claims, highlighting government’s commitment to extending the present scheme for motor injury cases under £10,000 to EL and PL cases up to £25,000.

He said: “This could represent a further opportunity to address disproportionate legal costs in these claims, but compensators will need to review their claims notification and liability decision making processes to ensure they can comply with what are likely to be quite tight timescales for admitting liability and making offers to claimants.”

Chairing the briefing, MGAA chairman Reg Brown said: “The potential impact of these changes emphasises the need for MGAs to ensure they understand, and as importantly, respond to the challenges ahead. The implications for not taking action could undermine the fundamental role MGAs play in protecting their capacity provider, and hence the hard earned reputation this market has achieved for innovation and service.”

The briefing, held at the Lloyd’s Library, provided MGAA members with a ‘snapshot’ of EL and PL claims trends, themes and practical advice and top product liability topics, over the past 12 months. Speakers touched on subjects including important coverage issues, non-injury related PL claims and highlighted legal developments, in particular the current key legal position, such as The Jackson Reforms, extending the road traffic scheme to EL and PL, and the consultation about discount rates.