Lloyd's hires debt collector

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The Independent Online
LLOYD'S of London is to draw up plans for collecting unpaid debts from names - investors in the insurance market. Detailed proposals will be submitted to the governing council in mid-September.

David Rowland, chairman of Lloyd's, said: 'We wish to be as fair and sympathetic as we possibly can to those who have demonstrated a willingness to pay and cannot.'

Peter Middleton, chief executive, said Lloyd's had been criticised for not chasing names who had avoided paying their losses by, for example, putting their assets in overseas trusts. He said two outsiders - Philip Holden, an insolvency expert from the law firm Dibb Lupton Broomhead, and Bernard Bradford, a retired debt collection specialist from NatWest bank - would help to prepare the plans.

Lloyd's said it did not have accurate figures for unpaid debts, but it is thought to have received only a third of the pounds 1.7bn-worth of bills sent to names at the beginning of July. In May, Lloyd's announced losses of pounds 2bn for 1991, the fourth successive year in the red. About 17,000 names are sufficiently aggrieved to be taking legal action against agents and underwriters.

Mr Rowland said he would welcome the first judgment by the courts. He said there would be an opportunity for new settlement offers, whichever way the decision went.

In another move to clear up problems left over from the market's series of disastrous losses, Lloyd's announced a working party to investigate closing syndicates' open years of account from 1986 on. Many of these are open because of unresolved catastrophe claims. The Newco project is already creating a limited liability company to take over outstanding liabilities up to 1985 - mostly 'long tail' claims relating to pollution and asbestosis.