Liability underwriters are split over the possible effects on directors' and officers' (D&O) cover of a corporate manslaughter law would promised by government on Tuesday.

Some underwriters said that the law could increase premiums by up to 20%. While others said that the law would simply duplicate existing legal provisions and would, therefore, have little effect on risk and premiums.

One D&O underwriter said that a corporate killing law would further discourage talent from taking up directorships and, therefore, leave boards with less expertise.

D&O underwriting manager of Royal & SunAlliance's professional and financial risk team Paul Wells said that a new law would be very difficult to draft and pinning responsibility to a single individual would be hard to do.