“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate all at Anglo-French Adjusters and Pierre Thomas Law as we celebrate the fortieth and thirtieth anniversaries of their respective official creations.
In fact, their origins go back a bit further when I worked for other firms. I usually take the starting date as 1968, when a client’s Aston Martin was damaged in London by a Spanish car driven by a Colombian who promptly disappeared. After considerable efforts we finally heard the representatives of a Spanish insurer, curiously writing from Paris. I visited their office there and emerged with both the client’s damages and my appointment as the UK lawyer of that office and several major French insurers who were their clients. (We even then discussed the complications about Ireland – not much has changed…). My firms became their UK “Green Card” correspondents and other insurers were added with time. There also followed 4th Directive nominations from 2000.
So, the Aston-Martin served me well over the years although never enough to buy one myself!
In 1982 I was asked to form a company to represent two other major French insurance companies and thus was created A.F.A. The work originally included running a 24-hour UK travel assistance service for these companies but mercifully this ceased after about 4 years.
In 1992 I decided to create my own legal firm and to concentrate all the “Green Card” representation in AFA. Julie Charterton joined me at the outset, Simon Ball within a year, Lesley Mair and Helene Hartley a little later. I retired some twelve years ago, since when both firms have continued to flourish and develop.
Looking back, I think the last 40 years can be divided into three parts.
First, in the 1960s international traffic was a fraction of its current level, and most insurers knew little of the law of other countries. But in time everyone had to learn. Added to this was the UK’s entry into Europe in 1973 and its assimilation into European law, especially in the 1980s. We were at the heart of this movement.
Second, rationalisation. In the 1980s and 90s many insurers, small and large, disappeared or were assimilated into large multi-national groups. Less clients if no less business. However, it must be said that most of these groups were better equipped to deal with the greater “Europeanisation” of insurance and accident law and greater exposure to the English courts.
Lastly Brexit. Regrettably much of our previous work has been reversed. The firms’ task is now to learn how to disentangle the UK from European law and work out its consequences.
But the traffic and the commerce have not stopped so our future objective is to adapt, and contribute to, implementing a new relationship with Europe, which works in the future interests of us all. In this task I send my best wishes to all my former colleagues and friends, confident of their success.”