I have Legal Expenses Insurance Cover to pursue my claim – can I choose my own Solicitor?
It may be that you have the benefit of an existing Legal Expenses Insurance Policy, either as part of your motor insurance or through your household insurance policy, with which to pursue your claim for injuries.
It will often be the case that the legal expenses insurers will wish to dictate which firm of solicitors you use, often stipulating one of their own panel member firms. They may have their own panel of solicitors who conduct their work at agreed hourly rates, or they may cite quality control reasons for appointing a preferred lawyer or firm.
The question then arises, are you able to appoint your preferred choice of solicitor to represent you in the case, while still retain the benefit of the Legal Expenses Insurance policy?
The issue is governed by European Law. Article 4 of Council Directive 87/344 EEC provides that:
“1. Any contract of legal expenses insurance should expressly recognise that:
(a) Where recourse is had to a lawyer or other person appropriately qualified according to national law in order to defend, represent or serve the interests of the insured person in any enquiry or proceedings, that insured person shall be free to choose such lawyer or other person;
(b) The insured person shall be free to choose a lawyer, or if he so prefers and to the extent that national law so permits, any other appropriately qualified person, to serve his interests whenever a conflict of interests arises.”
Therefore it follows that a legal expenses insurer should agree to allow a Claimant to pursue his or her claim with his or her chosen solicitor, and still retain the benefit of the legal expenses insurance policy.
The legal expenses insurer may seek to limit the hourly rate the Claimant’s chosen solicitor can charge for the work, and in such circumstances the chosen solicitor can either agree to conduct the work at the hourly rate stipulated by the insurer, or potentially, can agree with the Claimant that an extra fee will be charged to the Claimant by the solicitor at the conclusion of the claim, to meet any shortfall between the hourly rate the legal expenses insurer is prepared to meet, and the minimum hourly rate for which the solicitor is prepared to conduct the work.
Any such additional fee might well be more than offset by a significantly improved level of settlement, as compared with what potentially might be achieved by a sub-standard insurer-appointed legal representative. If you have an injury claim, and you are disappointed with the level of service you are receiving from your current lawyer, we may be able to help. Likewise, if you have recently been injured and have concerns about the lawyer selected for you, please contact us on 0800 316 8892.