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The impact of Brexit has been the key talking point for insurance practices over the last 12 months, with clients increasingly keen to ascertain their ability to sell products to EU companies following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, there has been a significant increase in the demand for regulatory and compliance advice. Alongside this, there has been a steady pipeline of corporate and M&A activity, with significant consolidation observed amongst both brokers and insurers. Part VII transfers also remain highly prevalent, and the Lloyds market shows no signs of slowing down. The regulatory space has also seen the effects of the Insurance Act, which came into force in August 2016 and represents a significant change in English insurance law, a development which may have a substantial impact on insurers’ business models.

The contentious space has seen a slight downturn in disputes taken to trial as insurers and reinsurers continue to face challenging conditions; investment income has remained low, and underwriting profit has been squeezed by low rates. Nonetheless, lawyers report an increase in policy wording and cyber risk work, with data protection insurance products rapidly becoming a key market issue. Data privacy and security have risen to the top of the agenda for many organisations, and there is an ongoing development of cyber risk products across the UK, US, Europe and Latin America.

Traditional insurance market coverage disputes remain prevalent, key areas of activity being claims related to property damage, directors and officer’s liability, professional indemnity and claims arising from natural disasters. Firms in the contentious space tend to act either on the insurer and reinsurer side, key names among these being Clyde & Co LLP, Kennedys and CMS, or on the policyholder side, where Allen & Overy LLP, Reed Smith LLP and Fenchurch Law are the main players.

Brexit has also been a key issue on the insolvency and restructuring side, with many companies reviewing their structure and business plans for potential changes, aiming to account for uncertainties and continue operations with the least amount of disruption. Solvency II has now been in force since January 2016, however firms report a continued knock-on effect on deals, most notably in the life insurance space where companies have come under pressure.

Firms on the professional negligence side have seen significantly fewer claims in the last 12 months, which has caused some difficulty for the so-called ‘volume firms’, however more sizable cases continue to be brought to trial. Nonetheless, access to justice for smaller-scale matters has undeniably become more difficult, with many firms seeing cost budgeting as an increased priority following cuts to Legal Aid. Waste-to-energy, property and construction claims remain they key areas of focus, and cases arising out of negligent tax advice are also prevalent among high-profile individuals. Clyde & Co LLP and Mayer Brown International LLP are the key names in this space.

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Legal Developments in London for Overview

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

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