Claims and Circumstances

Written By: anonymous - Sep• 24•12

“Do you have any complaints?

“I don’t like the coffee, and the loo roll could be a bit softer.”

“No! Not thoe kinds of complaints; complaints against you, in a professional capacity.” Malcolm is in charge of our professional indemnity insurance renewal this year. And he is taking to the extreme.

“Oh” I laugh. “Er, no, I don’t think so.”

“You don’t think so?” He peers at me inquisitively.

I shake my head. “There are no complaints that I’m aware of.”

“And what about those that you are not aware of?”

“Well, I er, obviously, don’t know about them.”

“But there might be some?”  Christ, who made him Cardinal Mendoza?”

“Well, yes, but there might, also, be life on Mars. I just don’t know.”

“Then who would know?”

“The disgruntled clients, I guess.”

“Do you have a list?”

“No, I would only have a list if they had, actually, complained.”

“What about a list of potential complainants?”

“Any one of our clients could fulfil that role!”

“Aha! Then you must have a list of them.”

“You can’t submit a list of all our clients – who may – or may not – have complaints,” I point out. Some of them might be perfectly happy with our service.”

“Then we must find out!”

Malcolm decides to call each and every client and make sure that s/he/it is happy with the work we have done. In his mania he enlists me, to go through the contacts I have. He is working his way thought the A-Cs when The Boss finds out.

“Don’t be so bloody stupid!” he explodes. “Do you want to encourage complaints?”

“No,” Malcolm admits, “But I don’t want to overlook any either.”

“You cretin! You only have to notify insurers of any complaints you’re actually aware of. You don’t need to go calling round and inciting more!”

“Better to be safe than sorry,” he retorts. “You know what Underwriters can be like…”

“I know what clients can be like! They don’t need any encouragement to moan!”


I don’t think Malcolm is cut out for this role. He sees gripes and grievances in every corner. The Boss, on the other hand, takes the path of least co-operation; skimping on information and providing on the barest detail of potential problems to insurers. A client might have threatened to kill him with a machete and feed his entrails to a pack of marauding wolves but he wouldn’t think that was worth notifying them about.

“He didn’t mean it,” he will say, even when The Solicitors Regulatory Authority/Law Society/Legal Ombudsman/Supreme Court steps in. “Our service was exemplary.”

But then he will expect full indemnity coverage when he’s struck off the roll and fined millions of pounds.


For once, Malcolm does not give in. He goes off to study the terms of the policy; returning looking very pleased with himself.

“It says we have to notify them of claims and circumstances which might give rise to claims,” he tells Alistair.

“And what the hell does that mean in English?”

“It means” He puffs out his chest, “that complaints, suspected complaints; possible complaints and, even, cock-ups (which the victims don’t know about yet) have to be disclosed to insurers.”

We always have quite a few of the latter kind, which The Boss usually covers up.

“And what if we don’t know that we’ve cocked up?” He says facetiously.

This throws Malcolm. “Well,” he considers, “Then I guess, we can’t disclose those ones.”

“Precisely! See! That’s my point; don’t go digging when you don’t know what’s buried in the graveyard. Stop stirring the pot!”

Two clichés that you don’t, often, hear in the same sentence.


But, as it turns out, Malcolm’s digging has had some unexpected results. Whilst there are a few gripes and grumbles about invoices or delays, there are, also, compliments and plaudits from many others.

The Boss is said to be, “An example to other litigators,” Malcolm gets praised for his meticulous record keeping and, even, Jane does well. One client says she is, “Intimidating” (which she takes as a huge compliment) and another calls her “The most tenacious litigator,” he has ever seen (which, obviously, means the same thing.)


And, bless her, Margaret seizes the chance to tell them how wonderful my Risk Assessment was. “We can’t speak highly enough of Helen. She is dedicated, professional and highly intelligent. You should promote her immediately,” she tells Malcolm (although he doesn’t pass the last bit on.)


All in all the mad insurance review is a success.

“Underwriters will be impressed,” he tells me. “We might even be able to knock a few quid off the premiums, with these reviews.”

“Well, good luck,” I tell him, as I’m edging out of the door.

“Thanks Helen,” he nods. “Just one more thing. There is another question I need to ask everyone: are you aware of any claims or circumstances which might give rise to claims, regarding conduct inside the office?”

“What do you mean?” I frown.

“I mean: employment disputes, health & safety breaches, that sort of thing. I’m sorting the internal policies as well.”

He smiles up at me, like a little boy. I hesitate. Do I mention Carlton?

“You should probably speak to Personnel about that,” I hedge.

“Oh I have,” he nods. “I just wanted to check with you, in case there was any unfinished business…..?”

I hesitate. Is this come clever trick to make me accept the status quo?

“I hope not,” I reply. But it’s impossible to predict what the future will hold.




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