Lloyd's rebels in payments row

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The Independent Online
LEADERS of an action group fighting to gain financial help for hundreds of Lloyd's underwriting members have been forced to abandon plans to pay themselves up to pounds 300,000 each if their efforts prove successful.

The 15-strong action group committee represents 1,500 underwriting members who have lost up to pounds 700m on insurance syndicates managed by the former Gooda Walker underwriting agency. Yesterday, it sought authorisation from the members to pay the committee 1.5 per cent of the proceeds from any successful outcome of proposed legal action.

The move could have yielded between pounds 60,000 and pounds 300,000 for each person serving on the committee.

The action group's work is financed by subscriptions from the members and it yesterday gained approval to raise a further pounds 2.8m from this source.

But during an emotional meeting of the action group at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London, underwriting members repeatedly criticised the committee for suggesting the plan.

Claud Gurney, a member present at the meeting, said: 'It is obscene for members to seek to serve on the committee on a voluntary basis and then come back and ask for remuneration.'

Alfred Doll-Steinberg, chairman of the committee, said the payment plan was necessary to 'motivate the committee. It will send a message that we are not going to be a soft touch.'

Another member who protested said the average remuneration that a person on the committee might receive would be in excess of the average amount of money returned to the members.

As the meeting became more vociferous in its protests about the payment plan to committee members, Mr Doll-Steinberg agreed to withdraw the proposal and said that another remuneration plan would be put forward for approval at a meeting in mid-January.

Members were told that the committee had established a clear legal case to dispute pounds 248m worth of losses.

If 75 per cent of that amount were recovered in the course of out-of-court discussions or through litigation, that would be regarded as a 'good result'.

Another member objected to a proposal, which was approved, that would allow the committee to withhold distribution of the accounts of the group. He was told by the committee that the restriction was necessary to ensure that parties in dispute with Gooda Walker did not see how much the group was spending.