Labour Research December 2012

Law Queries

Legal costs

Q. We noticed that under some household insurance policies, people can recover their legal costs in taking their employer to a tribunal. What are the factors to bear in mind if going down this route?

A. Yes, many home contents insurance policies offer this type of protection. But there are differing views on how effective it is and, anecdotally, it seems that it doesn’t always translate into substantial assistance.

First of all, a policy holder will need to satisfy the insurance company’s employment lawyer about the likelihood of his or her claim succeeding. Usually this is stated to be a 55% or higher prospect of winning.

If the request for legal assistance is rejected, the policy holder should examine who was the person who rejected their request.

Consider whether they are qualified to make that decision and what their legal credentials are. And if you feel that they have reached a wrong decision, you could obtain an opinion from your own appointed lawyer showing that the insurer has incorrectly assessed your chances of success.

Another common complaint about legal assistance derived from household insurance concerns insurers trying to choose the lawyer who will represent you. In fact, insurers may not necessarily be able to impose such a restriction — regulation 6 of the Insurance Companies (Legal Expenses Insurance) Regulations 1990 allows individual policy holders to choose their own representative.