Composite Legal Expenses



Composite Legal Expenses (CLE) is one of the UK’s leading legal expenses insurance providers, offering a wide range of innovative and bespoke pre-paid “after the event” solutions to the legal, insurance broking and company marketplaces. Additionally, CLE provides 24/7 legal advice and help-line services, plus outsourcing facilitation provision for third party insurers and service providers.

CLE were one of the first companies to take advantage of legal reforms introduced by Lord Justice Wolf. Previously individuals were required to pay the price of premiums and other costs to proceed with their case. In practice individual solicitor practices used their own overdraft facilities to pursue cases. This still limited the number of cases a solicitor could manage at any one time.

Under the CLE approach a client was able to take out a loan to cover the cost of running their case. All legitimate costs, such as police or medical reports, were recoverable as separate disbursements, so the client’s damages were not affected. In the event that a client was unsuccessful the insurance policy covered the entire cost of the case, offering peace of mind to the client.

To administer this new scheme CLE needed a web-based system for their solicitors to log in to, add clients, and request disbursements. CLE in turn had the facility to authorise or reject requests as appropriate. The system also enabled solicitors to print off all legal documentation, with client details auto-filled. Finally the backend system shared data with various external banks and underwriters on a daily basis.


It was made very clear at the beginning that this project had to be completed within a very short period of time. Due to the time restraints the system was originally developed in a Rapid Application Development style (using the Agile methodology).

We assigned two systems analysts to work closely with senior members of CLE. During the early phases of this project the team worked hard to map out the process flow that was required to support the new system. Once our analysts had sufficient information about the process we proceeded to design the system and create a series of use cases which clearly illustrated how a user might use the system. After presenting the use case scenarios and having them authorised by the customer we immediately assigned developers to start implementation of the system.

We managed to complete the project within 3 months, enabling CLE to start generating revenue early. During the following six months there were many requests for further developments as new business needs were identified. These were all implemented without any disruption to their service.

technologies/ tools used

Linux ANSI C/C++ (server-side development), Java, MYSQL, Distributed System Development, Macromedia ActionScript, HTML, DHTML, CSS, JavaScript, CGI (web services), PDF Writer.


CLE used various underwriters and banks, including Halifax Bank of Scotland, First National (Abbey National), RZB Austria, NIG, Europ Assist. Accordingly the security of the system was of paramount importance. It was thoroughly tested by all of the above, and to date has not been breached.

Once the system had completed its first nine months of use we completely reviewed it from start to finish. We analysed its strengths and weaknesses, then overhauled it completely using the more traditional waterfall approach. This time we also included a data migration project so that we could switch from the old system to the new.

    Key features of Composite Legal Expenses system:
  • Highly secure system/li>
  • Highly Scalable system
  • Large national user base of solicitors
  • Enterprise Information Portal – (varying interface / functionality for different users)
  • Secure auto-filled printing for all legal documents
  • Full authorisation process
  • Full audit log for FSA
  • Clear, intuitive user interface
  • Report generation to provide insurers with risk assessments for each solicitor practice
  • Secure daily financial transactions with external banks and underwriters

The CLE system was a stunning success, increasing their turnover by 400% in one year. As a result CLE won two national e-business awards for the system SA Business created for them, beating household names such as AXA, Admiral Insurance and


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