Legal Protection Insurers and Lawyers in Switzerland agree on Dispute Resolution!

As of 1 July 2021, Swiss legal protection insurers and lawyers will be able to test a Conflict Resolution Centre, newly established by the national Insurance Association (SVV) and the Swiss Bar Association (SAV). The Centre is a neutral contact point (equal representation by insurers and lawyers), offering assistance to lawyers and legal protection insurers in settling their disputes. After a 12-month test phase, it will be decided whether the Conflict Resolution Centre should be established permanently.

The creation of the Conflict Resolution Centre is the final initiative of the Joint Commission of the Swiss Bar Association and the Swiss Insurance Association. This Commission was established in 2013 to resolve recurring uncertainties and inconsistencies in the triangular relationship between client-legal protection insurer-lawyer. The goal was to facilitate an insurer-lawyer dialogue, exchange mutual interests and, as far as possible, promote them.

In first instance, the Joint Commission produced a checklist for insured persons how to deal with legal protection insurers. This checklist is handed to insured persons by insurers and lawyers. The objective is that policy holders are able to comply with the administrative procedures in a legal case and to save them from unnecessary costs or complications.

As second step, the Commission proposed recommendations for legal protection insurers in their dealings with independent lawyers and, as a counterpart, recommendations for lawyers in their dealings with legal protection insurers. These recommendations contain instructions for insurers and lawyers to ensure constructive and efficient processes and preserve the rights and obligations of the parties involved.

The final step is now the creation of the Conflict Resolution Centre which mediates between the legal protection insurer and the lawyer. It is not a contact point for insured persons and only at the request of both parties it issues a non-binding oral recommendation. The procedure is oral, voluntary (prior agreement between parties to involve the Centre is necessary), in principle without files and, it is understood, that interviews remain confidential and cannot be used in future proceedings.

During the test phase the Conflict Resolution Centre can deal with issues arising at the beginning or in the course of a case settlement. Namely: rejection of a lawyer, internal takeover of the case by LPI, practical problems of handling the legal protection case (e.g. handling of data worthy of protection), compliance with/interpretation of the SAV/SVV checklists; disagreements about: prospects of success, scope of the mandate, case interpretation, scope of cover, cost approval, interim settlement, cost ceilings, etc.; in the case of fee disputes, the Centre offers a rough initial recommendation and suggests first steps, however, it does not carry out detailed fee audits.

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