Company markets 'first criminal legal insurance policy'
A criminal barrister has formed a company to market what he says is the UK’s first criminal legal insurance policy. For an annual premium of £29.99, the policy provides up to £20,000 worth of cover for a defendant’s means-tested Crown court legal aid contribution or their privately funded legal fees.
Mark Roochove (pictured), of London’s 2 Pump Court, set up Legal Services Protection with two colleagues in response to the financial impact on clients of the reintroduction of means-tested legal aid in the Crown court in 2010. Defendants with an annual disposable income in excess of £3,398 are liable to contribute towards the costs of their publicly funded defence.
The policy covers all offences triable in the Crown court, either way or indictable only. It excludes anyone with previous convictions or who has been prosecuted for a criminal offence in the past 10 years. Cover is provided by Lloyd’s registered broker Tasker & Partners and underwritten by Inter Partner Assistance, part of the AXA Group.
Roochove said that many people are caught out by unexpected events at work or personal circumstances and find themselves facing criminal charges, particularly in relation to driving offences. He said that most do not realise that their motor and household insurance policies cover them only for civil, not criminal, liability.
He said: ‘It was my involvement in a particular case with a carpenter in his thirties, who found himself facing an allegation of causing death by dangerous driving, which really concerned me. As he was over the disposable income limit, he had to pay monthly contributions of £2,200 towards his legal expenses for five months. This put an immense strain on him and his family and I thought that there must be an insurance solution to alleviate this,’ said Roochove.
The Bar Standards Board said that there are no rules preventing barristers from having other jobs provided their independence or appearance of independence is not compromised.