'Names' mobilise for war

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS of investors in the Lloyd's insurance market are poised to launch the largest campaign seen in the British business community as they fight for compensation over losses of pounds 5.5bn.

Lawyers were last night preparing their next move following the failure by Lloyd's to gain sufficient acceptance from investors for a pounds 900m deal designed to head off protracted legal action and provide some financial help for the members.

The 23,488 investors, the 'names', faced losses arising from claims for hurricanes, European windstorm damage, asbestosis and pollution damages. Over the past three years losses have climbed to pounds 5.5bn and this year Lloyd's is expected to report a further pounds 2bn.

In the four years the losses each underwriting member could have suffered may have totalled pounds 319,000. In some cases personal losses have climbed to more than pounds 1m.

Because Lloyd's did not receive enough acceptances, more than 12,000 who did seek to take up the deal will lose the chance of an average of pounds 28,257 each. Lloyd's has withdrawn the offer.

Tom Benyon, a former Conservative MP who heads the Society of Names, a ginger group fighting for financial help for members, said: 'Lawyers will now be ordering their next BMW. Litigation is expensive, time-consuming and arbitrary.' David Rowland, Lloyd's chairman, condemned litigation as 'an untidy, lengthy and expensive route.'

Offer rejected, page 27

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