Lloyd's disciplinary changes urged: QC speaks out at end of case against underwriter that cost market pounds 1m

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The Independent Online
REFORMS in the way the Lloyd's insurance market carries out internal disciplinary procedures have been urged by a top lawyer in the wake of a case against a professional underwriter.

The case was brought by Lloyd's against Edward Cowan in 1989 and only finished this week after the Lloyd's ruling council considered a 358-page disciplinary report and a 100- page report of appeal proceedings taken by Mr Cowan against the original findings.

Mr Cowan initially faced a total of 16 charges of discreditable conduct and alternate charges of detrimental conduct in the conduct of reinsurance business for syndicate 529.

During the course of the action, for much of which Mr Cowan defended himself without the help of professional lawyers, seven of the charges were abandoned. Of the remaining nine Lloyd's decided that there was no case to answer in respect of one and amended a further two as they were not wholly supported by the evidence.

Mr Cowan was eventually found guilty on five charges and not guilty on the remainder.

During the proceedings Richard Southwell QC, deputy president of Lloyd's appeal tribunal, concluded that one of the offences of which he had been found guilty had not been committed for personal gain. He was alleged to have underwritten a risk at unattractive and uncommercial terms.

Mr Cowan has been censured by Lloyd's. But, in a sharp warning to the market's authorities who have spent more than pounds 1m on the case, Mr Southwell said: 'The chairman of the disciplinary committee and counsel and solicitors for Lloyd's and for a defendant should actively try to keep proceedings short and to the point, bearing in mind that all disciplinary proceedings are expensive, while avoiding any departure from due fairness.'

Mr Southwell stressed that Lloyd's should 'select the principal potential charges' and pursue the prosecution in relation only to those.

'It is the duty of prosecuting counsel and of the disciplinary committee to consider whether the number of charges can be reduced or whether severance is necessary,' he added.