The slow and painful collapse of the SMDF continues to surprise, if not delight. Today, a letter from the Chairman of the SMDF raises more questions than it answers. Three sentences jump off the page:
We embarked on a strategic review during 2010, with the assistance of significant outside expertise. It was recommended that we provide indemnity in 2010/11 and then sell our book of business.
When the London insurance market became aware, earlier this year, of the possibility of a Master Policy being introduced for Irish solicitors, any interest in the [SMDF]’s book evaporated.
What the letter diplomatically omits is the identity of the party who made the London insurance market aware of the possibility of a master policy being introduced. It was, of course, the Law Society.
The result? The Law Society now proposes to impose a €200 annual levy on all solicitors, not just members of the SMDF, for at least 10 years. (The SMDF letter raises the prospect of a 15 year bailout.)
The Law Society and the SMDF have already been criticised for seeking a bailout from Society members rather than SMDF members. But, it now transpires, the SMDF found a solution to its problems which might not have involved calling on all solicitors to bail it out.
The Law Society went public with its (still!) undeveloped idea of a master policy, depriving the SMDF of the opportunity to sell its book. The Law Society will now impose a new solution, at significant cost to its own members.
I might not be the only recipient of this letter to have exclaimed: “What?!”