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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

brain in a lightbulb

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 38 seconds)

The legal profession, like others, brings with it a raft of complex terms and jargon. It takes years of often tortuous academic study and subsequent practical experience to begin to be conversant with it. It is esoteric in nature and acts as a barrier to those who seek to learn about law itself, let alone the rules and regulations governing court procedures and conducting a claim. Like the unfathomable liturgical Latin of the high priests, it is a language only known to the initiated.

To conduct litigation with any degree of competence, several years post-qualification experience as a practitioner is required navigating the voluminous and sometimes obscure rules of Court; not forgetting being comfortable advising clients as to the practical implications of embarking on litigation and the likely scenarios that may play out – including the possible pitfalls.

It is a minefield to be entered into with trepidation for a litigant in person and with due caution if legally represented. It is not for the faint-hearted and should only be done so with the guidance and advice of competent and skilful practitioners.

You’re preaching to the converted – why?
Because it is similar for a solicitor seeking an ATE/litigation insurance provider (it is invariably the solicitor that is tasked by the client to source appropriate insurance). The client and solicitor will expect from the underwriter familiarity with the civil procedure rules and Court system. In addition, a good working knowledge of the relevant area of law (or at least an ability to carry out the necessary research to be able to ask the right questions). It makes the solicitor’s job much easier if they deal with an underwriter with a technical legal background and able to ask the relevant questions.

We at Temple receive numerous applications on a weekly basis for litigation insurance relating to a wide variety of legal disputes, from claims against public authorities in their care and treatment of mental health patients under the Human Rights Act 1988 to claims for currency in convertibility losses under political risk insurance policies. The areas of law we are engaged in differ so widely we do not profess to have an in-depth knowledge of them all – let alone have the time or resources to attempt to do so.

Instead, we rely on the solicitor and/or Counsel’s expertise in the area of law concerned to provide us with a reliable assessment of the merits of an applicant’s case. We would expect the legal representative to be of the requisite calibre and experience to conduct the litigation on the insured’s behalf with confidence and proficiency.

Here at Temple we pride ourselves on being able to ask the right questions. An obvious statement, but less easy in practice. We are able to do so only because we have a team of underwriters who between them have many years’ experience conducting litigation at all levels; this has been gained on all types of cases in County Courts as well as the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court. This, we are told, gives us a distinct advantage over other providers of litigation insurance.

As a result of our collective experience we have an ability to assess complex cases quickly and then ask for information pertinent to the merits of the case, thus minimising the time a solicitor spends processing the application.

If you have a client who is thinking about taking out litigation insurance, do call on 01483 577877 or send an email to