Insurance reform campaigners want a Government-commissioned report on legal fees published because it claims that high legal fees are driving up insurance premiums.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform is seeking clarity on the economic assessment of legal costs, saying that a report on the matter is a year overdue.
The body claims that legal costs contribute to high insurance premiums faced by consumers, small businesses and voluntary groups. Lawyers do not agree.
The Department of Justice-commissioned Indecon analysis of legal costs was due for submission to the Government this time last year.
Personal-injury legal expert Stuart Gilhooly SC commented: `“The Law Society has cooperated in full with Indecon and also eagerly await its analysis."
“However, it’s quite frankly disingenuous to suggest that legal fees play a large role in high insurance premiums.
“They constitute a very small element of insurance costs and are getting lower due to the significant reduction in damages and claims which necessarily impacts on the costs payable,” said Mr Gilhooly.
Flora Crowe, board member of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, commented: "Daily we hear about events being cancelled or organisations’ growth stifled because of these costs.”
"We welcomed the Government’s decision to commission An Economic Evaluation of Options to Control Litigation Costs, but cautioned that the timeframe for its completion not be allowed to drift.
"Unfortunately, this is what has happened, making it essential that the report is presented to Government without any further delay," she concluded.
Senior counsel Stuart Gilhooly responded: “The focus should be on the swingeing profits being made for several years now by insurance companies at the expense of the consumer and injury victims.”
Separately, the insurance reform body has expressed concern that additional legal analysis of the report will add to delays.