It would be an eccentric solicitor who joined the profession with the express ambition of spending significant time on the process of obtaining professional indemnity insurance.
Instead, PII cover for solicitors has been headline news for all the wrong reasons, on and off, for a couple of decades. Yet, the indications are that left to run its course, this renewal round will, in commercial terms, be relatively ‘benign’.
However, the focus is on the upheaval that lowering the minimum level of cover to £500,000 would cause. This proposal by the Solicitors Regulation Authority is one that the Legal Services Board must now determine. The LSB could introduce this before 1 October – still the renewal date for 95% of the profession.
Calls from the Law Society for a deferral are surely right; it is in no one’s interest to go shopping as the prices and goods are changed.
‘Flux’ around PII is also bad for confidence in the solicitor ‘brand’, something the SRA should bear in mind when it decides on the timescale it is pushing the LSB to support. If instructing a solicitor is the ‘safe’ option for clients buying legal services, then the natural expectation is that obtaining insurance for the work they undertake as lawyers should be straightforward and transparent.
This is an area where it should not be assumed consumers are especially sophisticated.