Insurer’s choice of solicitors creates conflict of interest

Legal Expenses Insurance

When Bettina was bringing an employment case against the local council, her insurer appointed a solicitor for her. But undisclosed information gave her cause for concern.

What happened

Bettina decided to bring an employment case against the council for unfair dismissal. So she put in a claim with her insurer under her legal expenses policy. 

The insurer accepted the claim. But when Bettina contacted them, employment tribunal proceedings were not necessary. So the insurer appointed a firm of solicitors from their panel to represent her instead. 

Bettina then found out the panel firm appointed to her case had represented the council in a previous employment matter. She felt that this should have been declared as a conflict of interest before they were appointed to her. She then asked the insurer if she be able to appoint her own solicitor to represent her. 

What we said

We made the decision to uphold the complaint because there was a clear conflict of interest. Bettina, as the policyholder, had lost trust in the solicitors as they hadn’t declared this. The insurer also didn’t have any other suitable solicitor with the experience and knowledge of employment tribunal claims. 

We decided that this was an exceptional circumstance, so it was fair for the insurer to let Bettina choose her own solicitor.