Litigation is usually expensive and knowing how to fund your case is important. Often your home insurance policy may cover you. If you look at your home policy you may find that you are entitled to amongst other things, legal expenses insurance.
This policy provides you with cover to pay for a lawyer to pursue or defend a claim and the policy will set out the circumstances in which you are covered. These are limited but are often in relation to any issues that affect your property. For example, the policy may provide for legal cover in relation to problems relating to the purchase of the property you have just completed such as defects that have not been picked up by your surveyor in his report that require repairs. It may provide cover for the legal expenses necessary in order to to pursue a boundary dispute.
You will need to tell the insurer of your claim as soon as possible and fill in a claims form. The insurers will have provided you with a policy booklet which sets out the detailed terms and conditions that apply to such a policy. The policy will not cover you unless there is a reasonable chance of you succeeding in your claim. You will need a lawyer to assess your chances of success.
If you want to appoint a law firm of your choice to act on your behalf then more often than not the insurer will try and prevent you from doing so by trying to make you use one of their panel lawyers who will carry out the work at a lower price using less experienced lawyer. Quinn & Co have often had clients come to us unhappy with the panel lawyers who sometimes have no specialism in the area of law required. They have exercised their freedom of choice and insisted in appointing a solicitor of their choice.
We at Quinn & Co are specialists in litigation and are completely independent of any insurer so no conflict will arise.
The Insurance Companies (Legal Expenses Insurance) Regulations 1990 provides a policyholder with the authority to choose who it wishes to instruct as his/her lawyer.
It is important to note that you do have the right of freedom of choice in English law to appoint who you want to. Often you will be pressurised into using a lawyer on their panel of solicitors. This can be done by restricting the scope of the wording of the policy and making it difficult. Another way of doing so is by limiting the hourly rate the insurer is prepared to pay for a solicitor chosen by you.
In Brown-Quinn v Equity Syndicate Management (2011) a court held that an insurer in such circumstances cannot reject a policyholder’s choice of a non-panel solicitor because of the solicitor’s rates as limiting the hourly rates would be a severe inhibition on the freedom of choice. In other words despite what the policy states the insurer has no right to limit your choice by trying to limit what they pay a solicitor chosen by you.
Another problem that arises is that it is often difficult to get an insurer to accept your claim and we have experience of dealing with this aspect on clients’ behalf. We would be able to negotiate the appointment of this firm and out fees directly with the insurers as we have in the past for many clients should you wish to instruct this firm.
Should you wish to discuss a potential claim covered by your insurance policy please contact Joseph Quinn on 01392 248858
This article is provided free of charge for information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such.