In an increasingly digitalised environment and with changing priorities as well as different needs of consumers, it seems logical that users of legal services also expect a more modern and adapted approach to the legal market and the services that are made available to them. Therefore, Legal Protection International aisbl wonders why it shouldn’t be possible that different service providers and a larger variety of legal services co-exist? Our Congress 2020 “Legal Protection Lawyer-A Modern Legal Professional” raised a number of questions in this respect: what skill sets are necessary, which services do legal professionals have to offer in today’s legal market and what can be the role of legal protection insurers for policy holders in settling legal issues? In essence, we are convinced that the prospects for legal protection insurers to be eventually accepted as attractive alternative legal service providers are rather positive!
While legal protection insurers understand themselves as alternative providers of legal services, the right (and desirability) of insurers to be part of the legal market and to provide legal services has been the subject of controversial discussion for many years. However, more experts nowadays take the view that besides “simply” good lawyering, other skills like efficiency, transparency or IT have become important for legal professionals. At the LPI Congress 2020, Prof. Elaine Mak, Utrecht University School of Law, Vice Dean for Education at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, presented her concept of the T-shaped lawyer. She explained that, in her view, the co-existence of different kinds of legal services, including the service of the Legal Protection Lawyer can actually present rather an opportunity than a threat. Watch the interview Silvia Onos made with Prof. Mak here.
In this context Christoph Arnet (Advocate/MLP-HSG, General Counsel Coop Rechtsschutz AG, Switzerland) writes how the mis-interpretation of relevant EU regulation can lead even high-level Courts of Justice astray. In his article, Christoph Arnet criticises the EFTA Court’s judgment of 27 October 2017 (Nobile) because it negates the right of legal insurers to provide services in kind and unduly restricts the private autonomy of insurers to shape legal protection contracts. This, however, he considers to be in contrast to the relevant provisions of the EU Solvency II-Directive (Articles 198 (1) and 201 (1) lit. a) of Directive 2009/138/EC) because, according to Article 198 (1) of the Solvency II-Directive, legal protection insurance includes, besides covering costs of legal proceedings, representing or defending the insured in civil, criminal, administrative or other proceedings or in the occurrence of a claim against the insured person, thus extending legal protection cover to services in kind. Moreover, contrary to the EFTA Court’s assessment, Article 201 (1) lit. a) of the Solvency II-Directive does only restrict the freedom of contract to the extent that it prohibits the insurer to restrict the free choice of lawyer in an inquiry or proceedings, it does not, however, prohibit the insurer to provide services in kind.