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Member Support Service (MSS)

Member Support Service

If you find yourself being sued personally and have no access to professional indemnity insurance protection, the Member Support Service can provide defence and advisory services in the UK.

The Member Support Service is available on a discretionary basis and only in the UK.

It does not cover principals or consultants in private practices, who must already carry professional indemnity insurance (PII). It's aimed at helping those who find - where they believed they were protected by an employer's insurance - that they in fact have no insurance protection.

A mandatory levy funds this membership benefit and is included as an amount payable with membership renewal each year. The proposal was put to the membership following the 'Merrett v Babb' case.

Mr Babb was an employed surveyor who was sued personally following the bankruptcy of his employer. The firm's PII was cancelled and the claimant sued Mr Babb, rather than his bankrupt employer.

RICS felt that this placed employees in a situation that they could not possibly foresee.

The service provides wider protection and is therefore not just for members in private practice. Members in other employment sectors - such as building companies, local authorities, or other commercial concerns for example - are exposed to liabilities and the scheme will be there to assist them too.

Following the successful vote on 1 July 2002, we created the MSS to provide help to members on limiting their liabilities.

Is it a type of insurance?

No. It is designed to run on a 'cost neutral' basis, as efficiently as possible and without affecting the quality or service levels you can expect from us.

The service is funded by a levy of £15 paid by all those eligible for help (some categories of members, such as retired members, probationers and students will be exempt from payment).

Note: The MSS levy, set at £15 for the first two years, was discounted at a nil rate in 2005 - and has continued to be discounted to a nil rate.

How will it benefit me?

If you are eligible, the MSS is there to help you get:

  • access to external expert legal advisers
  • a dedicated helpline manned by qualified staff
  • support in dealing with insurance providers.

And, depending on each case's individual merits and level of funds available, the service will:

  • investigate the allegation
  • help with legal costs
  • at its discretion, provide further support.

Who pays for this service?

Members eligible for the service and payment of the levy are:

  • members not required to carry PII under Rule 9 of the Rules of Conduct for firms
  • members on part-time concessionary subscription rates get a similar concessionary rate on the MSS levy
  • retired members, trainee surveyors and students are eligible for the service but do not need to pay the levy.

If applicable, this levy will be collected with your membership renewal due on 1 January each year.

Note: If your employer pays your membership fees you will need to check whether they will pay the extra levy. If not, you must make sure you arrange for it to be paid separately. If you pay by direct debit it will automatically be collected with your membership fee on 1 January each year if applicable. The levy is tax deductible as an expense of your professional activity.

Due to a continued favourable claims rate there remains an adequate level of funds in the levy fund to offer assistance to members who may require support from the service. RICS will continue to monitor the position.

So who is eligible for help?

The service is for:

  • UK members who are not required to have their own PII under Rule 9 of the Rules of Conduct for Firms
  • UK retired members
  • trainee surveyors
  • members on part-time concessionary rates
  • students.

Is this a profit making activity for RICS?

No. After any administrative expenses have been deducted, the levy is set aside purely for the MSS.

What should I do in the meantime?

You need to check that your employment details are up to date on our membership database.

You will not get assistance if you are required to have PII under the our Rules of Conduct for Firms because you are a partner, director, member of LLP or a consultant of a private practice firm.

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