FOIL elects James Heath as new president

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Keoghs partner James Heath has been elected as the new president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL).

Heath succeeds Stephen Hines of Citygate Chambers, whose stewardship has seen FOIL navigate the initial stages of the Civil Liability Bill, and inch closer to Brexit. Heath is director of counter fraud strategy at Keoghs, having been instrumental in the development and growth of the firm’s fraud practice over the past 20 years.

In the next 12 months, FOIL will turn its attention to a number of crucial regulatory changes that will shake up the way insurance law is practised.

These include the Civil Liability Bill and whiplash reform, as well as Ministry of Justice’s review of LASPO Part 2, discount rate changes in Scotland and the Channel Islands, and possible government proposals on rehabilitation and credit hire.

Brexit will also be a factor, as the UK’s exit from the EU touches issues as far reaching as the payment of first-party claims outside of the UK, cross-border litigation, and local authority procurement.

Within FOIL, the launch of a new division, London FOIL, will support the insurance and reinsurance law firms and lawyers by creating a collective legal voice in the London and Lloyd’s market. The association will continue to extend its reach into jurisdictions that work closely with, and influence developments in, the UK.

Commenting on his appointment, Heath (pictured) said: “The FOIL presidency is a prestigious honour, and it has never been a more interesting time to take up the reins with the prospect of Brexit on the horizon. The regulatory change we hope to see over the next year will be complemented by a FOIL which is adapting and evolving to meet the demands of the markets it engages in.”

“In taking over the presidential baton from Stephen Hines, I see the core challenge as one of continuity—building on the strong and positive engagement that FOIL has delivered over the last 12 months. Whilst issues arising from Brexit and the Civil Liability Bill will be front and centre, FOIL’s span of engagement and influence is so wide now that I look forward to working closely with the national executive, London FOIL executive and sector focus teams to continue driving FOIL’s message and the FOIL standard.”

FOIL chief executive Laurence Besemer said: “I am confident James will bring the necessary strong leadership as FOIL approaches the unprecedented challenges in the year ahead. With James at the helm, FOIL will continue to pursue a detailed examination of the issues, and full engagement in the reform programme and with insurers, both reacting to proposals put forward and setting a pro-active agenda for change.”

Jennette Newman, partner at Clyde & Co and president of London FOIL, added: “This is an exciting time for FOIL as the London market, and the industry as a whole, face up to range of challenges and opportunities from tech-enabled disruption, through disintermediation to diversity. It is more necessary than ever for a collective voice on some of the big systemic changes occurring.”

“I welcome James and look forward to working together. While the London market is unique there are issues that cut across the whole insurance sector.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk