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U.K. multiline insurer Norwich Union P.L.C. has announced plans to purchase the London & Edinburgh Insurance Group Ltd. from The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. for L315 million ($528.1 million). L&E specializes in U.K. household, automotive, creditor and small commercial policies and had net written general insurance premiums of L673 million ($1.13 billion) in 1997. Its purchase by Norwich will make the combined group the U.K.'s third-largest general insurer based on premium volume of about L2 billion, according to Richard Harvey, Norwich group chief executive. Hartford is retaining ownership of Excess Insurance Ltd., L&E's reinsurance subsidiary, which is no longer writing new business. . . .Donald J. Greene, a name partner in the New York law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae, will be invested today as an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his 38 years of service to Lloyd's of London, the British insurance industry and what his office calls "the community of international insurance and law." The investiture will be conducted by the British ambassador to the United States, Christopher Meyer, in Washington, D.C. . . .Eureko B.V., the European insurance and financial services network, has been granted permission by the Polish government to sell pensions in the country's emerging private pensions market. Eureko, based in Amsterdam, will sell pensions in Poland through a joint-venture with Polish bank BIG Bank Gdanski. Up to 8 million Polish employees are expected to participate in the country's new private pension plan, which will start in April 1999. Under the plan, all Polish employees aged 20 to 30 must join a private pension plan to supplement their existing state pension. Employees ages 31 to 50 also may opt into the
plan. . . .Lloyd's of London underwriting agency Wellington Underwriting P.L.C. is continuing to offer war damage coverage to companies in Serbia and Montenegro, despite the reduced threat of NATO air strikes in the region last week. Serbian security forces began withdrawing from Kosovo last week, only hours before the expiration of the NATO deadline and the commencement of air strikes. Wellington offers insurance to non-Yugoslav companies with assets in Serbia and Montenegro, plus news and aid agencies in Kosovo, to cover against the risk of war, terrorism and interference by the Serbian government. "We will continue to offer these products for as long as the brinkmanship continues," said Ben Gartson, Wellington senior underwriter. . . .U.K. law firm Titmuss Sainer Dechert of London has formed a new insurance services group. The company says the multidisciplinary group will provide advice in the traditional areas of corporate activity and dispute resolution and in new areas, such as risk management and new product development. Titmuss Sainer Dechert also has appointed Robin Williams as a new partner. Mr. Williams has more than 20 years' experience in insurance and reinsurance law, most recently with the London firm of Hill Taylor Dickinson. . . .A lawyer is challenging in London's High Court the Law Society's regulations that require every lawyer to buy insurance from the Solicitors Indemnity Fund, a mutual insurer. Michael Dalton, who has his own practice in Hayling Island, south
of England, has been granted leave to bring a judicial review against the Law Society. He claims membership in SIF means he pays higher premiums than he would in the open market and that this is anti-competitive and contrary to European competition rules. . . .A Scottish judge has ruled that compensation can be claimed for psychological injury after an oil spill. At a preliminary hearing, Lord Gill ruled that a farmer who suffered psychological injuries, allegedly as a result of damage caused from oily spray from the tanker Braer to his fields, crop and livestock, could sue for compensation under the 1971 Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act.