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Lawyers go to polls on €16m insurance fund bailout

SOME 10,000 solicitors will be polled today about a planned €16m bailout of the profession's main insurance body.

The poll comes amid fears the Government will impose a massive levy on solicitors if they do not prop up the fund.

The Law Society will ballot all 10,000 practising solicitors to back the bailout for the Solicitors Mutual Defence Body, even though a third of the profession is not insured by the fund.

The planned SMDF bailout, if approved, will mean a €200 levy every year on each solicitor to meet negligence claims.

The solicitors will be asked to support a decision to pay €16m towards the orderly wind-down of the SMDF, which lost as much as €8m in an investment bond in 2009.


Four other insurers -- Quinn Insurance, RSA Insurance, Hiscox and Lloyds syndicate AG Dore -- all pulled out of the market last year.

If the ballot is rejected, the Government could impose a much higher levy on solicitors to protect the public because claims against solicitors have surged.

Last night, Justice Minister Alan Shatter refused to be drawn on the Government's plans if the ballot does not pass.

"The minister is not willing to pre-empt the outcome or to impose any particular solution on the Law Society's internal procedures relating to the matter," said a spokeswoman for the minister.

Irish Independent