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Temple’s 25th anniversary – and a big birthday for David Pipkin

(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 28 seconds)

Many of you will know David Pipkin almost as ‘part of the furniture’ at Temple Legal Protection and an integral part of its 25-year history. Below he recalls just two of the wonderful moments in his journey with Temple as he reaches his own personal milestone – celebrating his 70th birthday this month. This has included some 23 years of involvement with Temple (18 years employment so far) which followed on from over 35 years in legal practice! David takes up the story below.

23 years ago a decision at the Court of Appeal in Callery v Gray kickstarted the significant growth of the then fledging ATE insurance market.

Back then I was still working in private practice for London insurance law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. I had been instructed by the ABI to intervene as a representative group. The ABI at the time were concerned they would be serving the interests of both the liability and ATE insurers. It proved a difficult position to maintain, but on a personal note I was able to have dialogue with both sides and it set me on a path which led to me joining Temple some 5 years later.

The judgment from the Court of Appeal was a cautious one and Temple did not allow themselves to be caught up in the politics of the issues. The judgment itself can be distilled down to establishing the following principles:

  • ATE insurance premiums were recoverable in principle, even if they are taken out pre-litigation.
  • There is always a risk in litigation and their Lordships considered that, in a simple RTA case such as Callery, a 20% success fee for the claimants solicitor’s costs was appropriate.
  • That Temple’s ATE Insurance premium of £350 was reasonable.

There is no doubt this allowed the ATE insurance market to flourish and for claimants solicitors to be paid reasonably for their work for the next decade – until the 2012 LASPO Act reforms swung the pendulum to the liability insurers.

Once I joined Temple in 2006 the joint was rocking, and the diverse risks being insured by the ATE Insurance market can be ably illustrated by Temple’s involvement in the MP’s expenses scandal, which emerged in 2009. Widespread misuse of allowances and expenses permitted to MP’s were revealed, that aroused much public anger and led to many resignations, sackings and several criminal prosecutions.

What may be less known or understood is the significance of Temple’s ATE insurance backing to an appeal by the House of Commons authorities against the decision of the Information Tribunal that allowed the release of the detailed expenses information.

You may well recall the furore the subsequent disclosure of the information caused. Credit must be given to the courageous work of Heather Brooke, the journalist and information campaigner.

I consider Temple took a bold step in insuring that litigation – as it did with Callery v Gray in 2001 and many more since then. Here’s to Temple’s next 25 years at the front line of providing access to justice!