The Court of Appeal has found that Haven Insurance acted unlawfully in making direct offers to clients of Gavin Edmondson solicitors whose claims were still in the Claims Portal.
The firm had lost an initial case in August of 2014 were a judge in Wrexham ruled that Haven did not act inappropriately in settling six low-value road traffic claims so as to avoid paying legal fees.
The Court heard that the insurer had developed a practice of contacting injured parties directly after they had been notified of a claim on the Portal with the intention of offering to pay the claimant more if they did not use solicitors.
However Lord Justice Lloyd Jones has ruled that Haven has to pay Edmondson in each case the sums payable on settlement under the Protocol scheme, as set out in paragraphs 7.37 and 7.40 of the Protocol.
“I consider that the fact that an offer may have been made at a time when a retainer was still cancellable or otherwise terminable cannot relieve Haven of liability,” said LJ Jones.
“In each case, Haven, with knowledge of the existence of a CFA and that the claim was proceeding within the Protocol scheme, made an offer of settlement with no express limitation as to the period within which it could be accepted.
“It would have been open to Haven to make the offer conditional on cancellation of Edmondson’s retainer within the permitted period but it did not do so. In each case Haven assumed the risk that its offer might be accepted after the expiry of the cancellation period. In the event, in none of the underlying cases was the retainer cancelled or otherwise terminated,” he added.
Gordon Exall, from Zenith Chambers, said on his popular Civil Litigation Brief blog that the ruling would make the value of insurers contacting claimants directly very doubtful.
Haven Insurance has said that it will look to take the case to the Supreme Court.