November 14, 2018

James Heath, Partner at Keoghs, has been elected as the new President of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) looking ahead to a year that is set to be dictated by Brexit and ongoing legal reforms.


James succeeds Stephen Hines of Citygate Chambers, whose stewardship has seen FOIL navigate the initial stages of the Civil Liability Bill, and inch closer to Brexit.  James is Director of Counter-Fraud Strategy at Keoghs, having been instrumental in the development and growth of the firm’s fraud practice over the past 20 years.


The Presidential year ahead looks set to welcome a number of crucial regulatory changes that will shake up the way insurance law is practised.


The final Parliamentary stages of the Civil Liability Bill will lead into the first, and crucial, review of the Discount Rate and ongoing development of the Whiplash reforms laid out in the Bill – with 2019 seeing the laying before parliament of the Regulations under which the new whiplash regime will operate, and the ongoing development and testing of the electronic portal.


This is, however, only one element of ongoing reform, with the MOJ’s review of LASPO Part 2 still in motion and further Discount Rate reform on the horizon in both Scotland and the Channel Islands. We could also see Government proposals on reform of rehabilitation and credit hire also emerging.


Brexit and any possible deal that emerges remains the key talking point away from the Discount Rate and low value claims. It touches issues as far reaching as Green Cards, the payment of first party claims outside the UK, cross-border litigation, and local authority procurement. Much remains to be clarified, including contract continuity, inbound authorisation of EEA firms and customer communication.


Within FOIL, the launch of a new division, London FOIL, will support the insurance and reinsurance law firms and lawyers by creating a collective legal voice in the London and Lloyd’s market. FOIL will continue to extend its reach into jurisdictions which work closely with, and influence developments in, the UK.


Commenting on his appointment, James said:

“The FOIL Presidency is a prestigious honour, and it has never been a more interesting time to take up the reins with the prospect of Brexit on the horizon. The regulatory change we hope to see over the next year will be complemented by a FOIL which is adapting and evolving to meet the demands of the markets it engages in.


In taking over the Presidential baton from Stephen Hines, I see the core challenge as one of continuity – building on the strong and positive engagement that FOIL has delivered over the last 12 months. Whilst issues arising from Brexit and the Civil Liability Bill will be front and centre, FOIL’s span of engagement and influence is so wide now that I look forward to working closely with the National Executive, London FOIL Executive and SFTs to continue driving FOIL’s message and the FOIL Standard.”


Commenting on James’ appointment, FOIL Chief Executive Laurence Besemer said:

“I am confident James will bring the necessary strong leadership as FOIL approaches the unprecedented challenges in the year ahead. With James at the helm, FOIL will continue to pursue a detailed examination of the issues, and full engagement in the reform programme and with insurers, both reacting to proposals put forward and setting a pro-active agenda for change.”

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