DAS Group UK
DAS House Quay Side Temple Back Bristol BS1 6NH
+44 (0)117 934 2000
https://www.das.co.uk/
  • About DAS Group

    DAS Group UK has been a pioneer of the legal expenses insurance market since the concept was first introduced to the UK in 1975. DAS provides protection against unforeseen legal costs to millions of families and motorists, and hundreds of thousands of businesses every year, offering both before-the-event and after-the-event insurance products and a range of telephone advice and assistance services, including the flagship legal advice service.

    DAS is an authorised and regulated insurance company, based in Bristol, with offices in London, Manchester and Bedwas, South Wales, as well as subsidiaries in Arundel, Dublin and Toronto. DAS employs some 600 staff and has become one of the UK's leading specialist insurers.

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The evolution of ATE insurance over the last 20 years

Robyn-Lampon,-DAS

With the AvMA Annual Clinical Negligence Conference (ACNC) taking place in Leeds this week, Robyn Lampon from DAS looks at how ATE insurance has evolved over the last 20 years.

ATE insurance was born nearly 20 years ago in the wake of the Access to Justice Act 1999 which revolutionised the legal aid system in England and Wales.

We were one of the first companies to provide the cover and, at first, it was all so straightforward – no initial premium payment required, the premium effectively being ‘self-insured’, and all of it written off if the case didn’t win.

It was, however, a completely new development for solicitors and therefore an extraordinarily clunky process with only single risks being considered and all cases assessed individually.

The transformation of ATE has been little short of remarkable, and it is a perfect example of changes in market circumstances creating a need for a product.

Robyn Lampon

The ATE market soon evolved rapidly into one of high volume, low value, and primarily personal injury cases, (which actually provided DAS with the underwriting capability that ultimately led to us providing delegated authority to solicitor firms).

Then, when LASPO appeared in 2013, it radically changed the sector, moving it away from personal injury (although not completely), to become much more centred on clinical negligence.

A key development in the market has been the move from individual case assessments to solicitors firms making key decisions via delegated authority. This has had a huge impact in making the system far more collaborative and efficient, something that would have utterly unthinkable back in 2000.

The transformation of ATE has in fact been little short of remarkable, and it is a perfect example of changes in market circumstances creating a need for a product. Scores of injured people who have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own, and who lack traditional BTE insurance, now have a way with which to obtain access to justice and, hopefully, redress.

As it has become harder for the average person to afford legal assistance, ATE insurance has been firmly established as an incredibly important funding vehicle and facilitator of access to justice.

Robyn Lampon

ATE has faced repeated existential challenges, weathering a number of market-defining court decisions and changes in the law, many of which had they played out differently would have meant the end for ATE. Rogers v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2006] EWCA Civ 1134, is an obvious example where the issue of proportionality and reasonableness of the pre-LASPO premium model were addressed.

ATE continues to assist customers and law firms in ways that could not have been predicted in 2000.

As it has become harder for the average person to afford legal assistance, ATE insurance has been firmly established as an incredibly important funding vehicle and facilitator of access to justice.

The story of ATE is about the positive evolution of a ground breaking, sometimes controversial, but consistently socially important, insurance product.

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