About 170 industry experts and observers crammed into the CII Insurance Hall for Global Reinsurance's Countdown to Contract Certainty event last Tuesday.

The turnout was proof that John Tiner's recent announcement about putting regulatory intervention on the "back burner" has not entirely taken the sting out of contract certainty's tail.

As a self-confessed non-expert, chair Jeremy Vine added just the right touch of incredulity to proceedings: "Contract certainty? You mean there isn't contract certainty already? You must be joking..."

After the panel's opening rundown about their various responses to the FSA's pronouncements, proceedings started livening up when David Strachan was questioned about insurers' figures.

Normally on top of his brief, there was a definite vagueness about the FSA director's response: "At some point in the future, it will become clear whether we were right to place our confidence in the numbers [provided by insurers]". Indeed. But he also admitted there was a "risk that progress will decelerate".

As we moved on to whether legacy policies should be contract certain, Guy Carpenter chairman Geoff Bromley was a little more forthcoming than Airmic's David Gamble when it came to the number of legacy policies in the market.

Apparently, Guy Carpenter has 3,000 pre-2003 policies - a quarter of which are long tail - although an experienced observer spluttered into his chardonnay in the post-event drinks as he questioned the accuracy of the figures (about five times that, he said).

By this point, Jeremy Vine was clearly bemused by the issue and provided a little light relief by asking if legacy policies could be found in a "dusty old room" in the basement of Lloyd's.

Chaucer chief executive Ewen Gilmour parried by saying that the hypothetical cellar would likely be empty as "many old legacy policies have no contract at all".

So will contract certainty quell the entrepreneurial spirit that has fuelled Lloyd's over the years?

Gilmour was sceptical about these entrepreneurs, pointing out that the same entrepreneurialism resulted in the multi-billion pound losses in the past decade. He believed the culture that sustained Lloyd's for 300 years needed changing.

And what about clients who need more bespoke wording on their policies?

Allianz Cornhill general manager Doug Pennycuick reckoned underwriters must start the process of writing bespoke wording early enough to accommodate complex risks.

So, after all the heartache, will there actually be any benefits for the client from contract certainty?

Gilmour said policies could even become cheaper, but "that's not a promise", unfortunately.

Funnily enough, it was right at the end that the issue of technology was raised - a strange omission and one that, more than anything, possibly sums up the market's antediluvian approach.

Lloyd's Andy Brookes expressed a great belief in technolgy's healing power, not least because he has to face huge piles of "claims files sitting at Lloyd's" every day following his bicycle ride in.

Ending on a positive note, Strachan announced he felt "uplifted" as a result of the evening.

And as we filed out for the obligatory snifter or two, a couple of brokers were overhead expressing surprise at the high turnout, as surely contract certainty is "a dead issue".

Oh dear me no, old boy. It's very much alive.