Thomas Miller, an international group of companies providing specialist insurance, investment and professional services, is to launch an alternative business structure (ABS) next month.
The company manages leading marine insurance and professional indemnity mutuals such as the UK P&I Club, the biggest in the world, and Bar Mutual, and is also known in the legal market for providing due diligence and claims management services to commercial after-the-event insurers and litigation funders.
Patrick Bond, head of legal practice at Thomas Miller Law, said the ABS would provide services to corporate clients in the sectors of shipping, transport and specialist insurance.
“The group sees it as a natural progression to increase the spectrum of things we can offer our clients,” Mr Bond said. “We are not interested in doing any of the things that a high street law firm does.
“We know that our clients, and our target clients, want what we’re creating. We’re not taking over the world. Our philosophy is to stay close to our clients.”
Mr Bond said the ABS would work closely with Thomas Miller Claims Management, which provides claims handling, adjusting and support services to marine, transport and specialist insurance clients. Peter Jackson, chief executive of the claims management business, will be chairman of the ABS.
Mr Bond said the closest the ABS was likely to come to “human beings” was dealing with the companies set up by “very high net-worth individuals” to own yachts.
He added that Thomas Miller Law would not be “target-driven”, but predicted it would grow “reasonably well” beyond its initial tally of four qualified lawyers.
The ABS will be based at Thomas Miller’s offices in Newcastle and London. The group has offices all around the world from Piraeus to San Francisco and Shanghai.
Raymond Childs will be the head of finance and administration at Thomas Miller Law, which goes live on 1 February.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority granted the ABS a waiver from the separate business rule subject to a number of conditions.
These provide that the SRA must be notified in advance if it provides a new service which is ‘materially different’ from those currently offered, or the client would expect only an ‘authorised person’ to carry out.
When work is transferred from the Thomas Miller Group, it should be “made clear to the client in writing, the point at which Thomas Miller Law Limited takes over the conduct of a matter” and the client comes under the protection of the SRA.
The regulator also requires the new ABS to ensure that when it transfers matters to the group, those matters are either transferred to an “authorised entity” or the client consents to the outsourcing and the ABS remains the contracting party.