British Insurance Law Association (BILA)
The British Insurance Law Association (BILA) was formed on 25 February 1964 as the UK Chapter of AIDA.
Membership from the outset was not confined to lawyers, but to anyone with an interest in insurance law. Member numbers ran quickly into the hundreds. In recent years individual, corporate and academic/student members have involved up to or beyond 1,000 people engaged in insurance law being associated with BILA in any year. From the outset BILA welcomed distinguished members of the insurance market, legal profession, academia and the judiciary to serve as its most senior officers: a tradition which continues.
In July 1964, the first BILA Bulletin (latterly the BILA Journal) was published. For many years, this was published every few months. Latterly, contents appear online with an annual printed Journal being published.
Apart from its own extensive programme of lunchtime lectures and conferences, often staged in conjunction with other influential bodies, BILA has hosted other AIDA Chapter members among others at its own Colloquia, customarily held every two or three years. BILA’s study groups and responses to consulting papers have continued to play an important role, not least in the establishment of the first ever Insurance Ombudsman and the reform of UK Insurance Contract Law.
Some early concerns remain familiar today: the work of the newly-formed Law Commission; regulation of intermediaries; the impact of insurance upon tort law; the importance of insurance being studied as a higher education subject. Latterly, issues of regulation, new technologies and other modern phenomena have dominated concerns.
BILA has consistently supported the quadrennial AIDA World Congresses and more regular AIDA Presidential Council and Working Party meetings. In 1982 BILA hosted the AIDA World Congress in London. In 2012 it co-hosted the IV AIDA Europe Conference in London. Four BILA members are AIDA Medal Holders: Dr Gordon Shaw (AIDA Presidential Councillor and co-founder of BILA); John Butler (AIDA President (1992 - 2000); and Colin Croly (AIDA Secretary-General, 1990-2017) and Prof. Rob Merkin (currently AIDA Vice President) is among others to have held senior AIDA positions. (AIDA Presidential Councillor, 1994-2018 and AIDA Vice President, 2010-18 and Chair, AIDA Scientific Council, 2019). Since 2010 Tim Hardy has also been a member of the AIDA Presidential Council and the AIDA Executive Committee (presently as AIDA Treasurer) and since 2012 a member of the AIDA Europe Committee (previously serving as Treasurer).
Since 1985 BILA has operated a BILA Charitable Trust to provide support and funding for research and educational needs, offering an annual Book Prize for the best insurance law title published each year. Other grants and prizes are regularly provided. In more recent years, encouragement of students, younger academics and professionals has seen among other things the formation of a Future Insurance Professionals Group and an Under 35s Committee of BILA, re-naming as BILA Young Professionals.
By BILA’s Constitution & Rules (last updated in October 2010) BILA operates as a not-for-profit members’ subscription-paying unincorporated association with its activities directed by a Committee elected each year at an AGM. Membership of BILA is a pre-requisite for election to the Committee.
Its Chair, Vice Chair, President and Deputy President are customarily appointed for two-year terms with past Chairs serving a further two-year term as Immediate Past Chairs and with Committee members ineligible to serve for more than three successive years to help ensure rotation and succession in senior positions. BILA engages a Secretariat and appoints external auditors to approve its annual accounts.
The BILA Charitable Trust is a separately registered charitable organisation, funded by BILA and managed by trustees, usually appointed from among former senior BILA officers and reporting to the Charity Commission. The Future Insurance Professionals Group was the creation of a sub-committee of BILA, but the BILA Under 35s Committee, re-named as BILA Young Professionals, has its own constitution and rules and its officers are exclusively drawn from among its own ranks and they decide upon and manage the Committee’s activities, but report back to BILA with a representative attending BILA’s monthly committee meetings.
Fuller details of BILA’s history and activities can be found on its website: www.bila.org.uk.