Lloyd's names urged to refuse to meet losses: A rebel 'manifesto' has been circulated in the House of Commons. Anthony Bevins reports

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS of disaffected members of the Lloyd's insurance market are being urged to unite in refusing to meet their losses, in the wake of this week's declaration of a pounds 2.9bn loss for 1990.

The rebel call was contained in A Manifesto for Disillusioned Lloyd's Names - Six Good Reasons Why You Should Not Pay, which was being circulated at the House of Commons last night.

A number of Conservative ministers and MPs are facing heavy personal losses in the market, but the 'manifesto' was designed for distribution to names who have joined action groups set up to fight Lloyd's claims.

Membership of the market has fallen from more than 30,000 to fewer than 20,000 over recent years, and it is estimated that about 6,000 individuals belong to groups set up to contest some of the high-level claims made by the more controversial agents' syndicates.

The new protest said: 'Since 1991, increasing numbers of names have been ordered by their agents to pay up unprecedented sums of money, causing many cases of severe distress. A significant number of suicides and nervous breakdowns have already resulted from these demands and it is likely that more will follow.'

However, the unsigned document advised names not to succumb to threats of litigation, and suggested that those in dire straits should not seek respite from the market's Hardship Committee.

'The much-trumpeted Hardship Committee will be found to be of little or no help to the vast majority of disillusioned names,' it said. 'Few offers are being made, and fewer are being accepted. Most names who have suffered from negligence or fraud would prefer to stand and fight, for example by joining the Writs Response Group, rather than submit to the Hardship Committee.

'In Hardship, everything is taken or pledged and the ex-name is expected to live on or near the breadline for three years, watched by and accountable to Lloyd's. Gifts and transfers, even if made for the most genuine of reasons many years ago, are expected to be returned for Lloyd's to seize.'

As for threats of legal action, the 'manifesto' said the new management had stopped issuing writs last September against names who had not met their agents' demands.

Although the market authorities had announced a moratorium on writs in October, that had expired at the end of April; since then 'Lloyd's have issued no further writs, nor have they taken any steps to pursue the ones which have already been issued. Consequently, we urge you, if you have received demands arising from losses, or cash calls which are already the subject of litigation, or which are likely soon to lead to litigation, not to pay these demands before Lloyd's has made an acceptable offer to settle the relevant dispute.

'By taking this action, you will not only hasten the implementation of a just solution to your own problem but will also be helping minimise the destabilising effect on Lloyd's and the damage to its good name caused by drawing out and proliferating the disputes.'