SRA steps up efforts in ARP firm enforcement measures

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has stepped up efforts in enforcing consequences against Assigned Risk Pool solicitor firms that have neglected to pay their professional indemnity insurance premiums.

The insurer of last resort for those firms who could not obtain business liability insurance on the open market otherwise, the ARP was put into effect in July of 2010.  Since the introduction of the strategy, of the firms that received professional liability insurance cover in the 2009-2010 market year, 89 have been shuttered, while 48 have gone on to secure cover on the open market for the 2010-2011 renewal year.

There have already been 64 law closures of ARP insured law firms this renewal year, ten of those which were shuttered by the SRA directly.  163 out of the 309 ARP covered firms have fully paid their premiums for the 2010-2011 year, with the SRA taking steps against those who have yet to pay by entering them into default, leading to 17 firms being brought up on disciplinary charges for failure to pay.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal recently suspended a solicitor for 18 months for such a payment failure, and the SRA welcomed the move.  Former Arnolds Solicitors firm director, Wendell Arnold, not only neglected to pay his premium, but also refused to co-operate with an SRA investigation, which led the SDT to take action against Mr Arnold.

The SDT said that the decision to suspend Mr Arnold was made in order to protect the public and maintain the professional reputation of solicitor firms in general.  The SRA additionally said that it will be increasing its efforts to avoid such instances in the future by increasing the amount of resources and effort it devotes to aiding firms to leave the ARP.

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