Hello lovely readers and welcome back to the fifth instalment of my Trainee Diary series and the first one of my third seat! If you haven’t read about my first seat in Litigation & Arbitration (L&A) or my secondment at NatWest, you can read them here:
I am currently undertaking my third seat in the IRG team (the insurance & reinsurance group). Both IRG and L&A sit within the contentious LAIE (pronounced “lay”) practice group so I have now ticked off the “L”, the “A” and the “I” of LAIE. For those interested, the “E” is the employment law team.
In this blog, I’ll talk about what the IRG team do, what I’ve been up to, IRG training and some highlights from my time in the team so far.
What is IRG?
The IRG team sit within the broader disputes part of CMS and deal specifically with disputes that have an insurance or reinsurance angle. A lot of my work in this seat so far has been on the defence side for professional negligence claims – for example, X has designed a building which Y paid for. Y then alleges that X’s designs are negligent for some reason or that X breached the terms of their contract by failing to meet relevant standards. Y alleges the building had to be demolished and re-built and is suing X for the re-building costs. X is insured by Insurance Company Z. Typically, we will then be instructed and work for both X (“the Insured”) and Insurance Company Z (“the Insurer”) on a joint retainer in defending Y’s claim against X. Insurance Company Z would be the one paying out in the event that Y’s claim is successful.
What is “reinsurance”?
This term was unfamiliar to me before starting this seat but in short, reinsurance is insurance for insurers. It means that (direct) insurers are able to better manage their underwriting and underwrite bigger risks without risking insolvency because in the event that they do have to pay out a massive claim, they can split that loss with the reinsurer(s).
Sometimes a dispute can arise between an insurer and reinsurer because the insurer has paid out claims and is then trying to re-coup some money from the reinsurer. However, the reinsurer disagrees and disputes that the insurer should have paid those claims out.
What I’ve been up to in the team
As always, the work is varied and has included:
- Attending court hearings virtually and in-person
- Doing research on niche areas of insurance and reinsurance law
- Creating bundles of documents for arbitrations and court hearings
- Attending consultations with experts – in Scotland, an expert report is required for a professional negligence claim so there will usually be lots of meetings with the instructed expert
- Drafting court documents
- Drafting letters and updates to clients, insurers, and other solicitors
IRG training day
If you’ve read my very first L&A blog, you’ll know that with each seat change, CMS offer a whole raft of training to ensure their trainees are well equipped for the next 6 months. Amongst the various training sessions, the IRG team organised a specific full day of training in the London office. It was great to meet all the other IRG trainee solicitors and solicitor apprentices in-person (!) and really get into more detail about insurance and reinsurance matters.
There are many insurance and reinsurance specific points and processes that I had not appreciated prior to my time in this seat and it was incredibly interesting to hear from different associates and partners in IRG teams across the UK.
It was also a great opportunity to pop down to London again (the last time was for a CMS mediation which you can read about HERE) and have a little foodie trip!
Workwise, the first few weeks of this seat have been incredibly interesting because it’s involved so many things that I did not expect to be different from my L&A seat. For example, reading an expert’s detailed technical report and working as the solicitors for both an insured and their insurer.
As always, the IRG team and the wider LAIE team (who all sit in the same area in the Edinburgh office) were incredibly (re)welcoming and it’s been great catching up with all my LAIE colleagues after my 6 month secondment. Since being back in the team, there was a team event to see a show at The Fringe Festival and a drinks evening with the associates in the team – CMS being as social as ever!
Quick note on CMS applications
At the time of posting this blog, CMS have recently opened up their applications for First Steps, CMS Academy and Solicitor Apprenticeship – they are closing on 24 December 2022. CMS recruit on a rolling basis so it’s best to get your application in as early as possible!
Please do have a look around on my website for all my top tips on applications and send me an email if there’s anything you’d like covered in future posts!