No market-wide move to settle Lloyd's disputes, insurers say

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THERE is to be no new market- wide initiative to reach an out-of- court settlement on the litigation afflicting Lloyd's of London, a lawyer representing one of the parties said yesterday.

Lloyd's authorities also confirmed that they will not initiate a new global settlement offer.

Names are hoping that last week's victory in the Gooda Walker case will prompt the market's authorities or the insurers of the agents being sued by names - the errors and omissions underwriters - to organise an out-of- court settlement of other cases.

But Michael Payton, a solicitor acting for the E&O underwriters, said they would have to foot the bill for damages awarded by the courts. Later this month 1,650 names on the Feltrim syndicates are due to start a case in the High Court, when they will claim pounds 599m in damages.

Mr Payton said: 'It seems expectations are too high. Nobody on this side is talking about an out-of-court settlement. We gave settlement our best shot last year. It was a major effort. We worked day and night on an exercise costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. It took months, and a new offer is simply not on the table now.

'At every stage there has been an over-estimation of the pot available to names.'

Colin Hook, chairman of the Feltrim names association, said: 'If there is to be no settlement they can pay up and shut up. I don't think names will be worried by it now we have the Gooda judgment behind us.'

Separately, Lloyd's and the Association of British Insurers said they were disappointed that the US Congress had postponed efforts to reform the US Superfund legislation.

The reform was meant to resolve legal disputes between insurers and owners of polluted sites over the cost of cleaning up polluted sites in America, as required by law in the US since 1980.

Since the legislation was retrospective the cost is immense. A spokesman for the ABI said the potential cost to the world insurance industry could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.