BLD can proudly look back on a history of more than one hundred years since its founding by Dr Richard Schliephake in 1911. After the First World War, Dr Richard Schliephake, co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board of Central Krankenversicherung AG in Cologne (known today as Generali Krankenversicherung AG), fostered close ties with the Rhineland insurance industry whose legal interests he represented in court. Dr Richard Schliephake was initially succeeded by Dr Hermann Wirthwein, before Dr Peter Bach moved the firm towards its sole specialty in insurance and liability law from 1977 onwards. In 1984, the firm changed its name to Bach & Langheid in Cologne and expanded in the 1990s by opening new offices in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin.
From 1990 onwards, operating under the name Bach, Langheid & Dallmayr, BLD established different divisions and departments, analogous to the structures of the insurance industry in order to further increase the degree of specialisation and a corresponding focus on clients’ needs. The result was a successful handling of its first major cases, including the airport fire in Düsseldorf in 1996 and the high-speed train accident in Eschede in 1998, as well as product advice and a further focus on insurance supervisory law following the discontinuation of regulatory provisions.
When separate admission standards and postulation restrictions were abolished in Germany in the 2000s, first at regional courts and later at higher regional courts, BLD began to represent the insurance industry and its policyholders nationwide and established cross-divisional centres of excellence for personal injury and fraud investigation. The further growth of the firm over the following years, from 30 to over 100 lawyers in 2010, required the implementation of professional management structures, which were further expanded by means of digital support.
Due to its broad and considerable expertise in insurance law, BLD was able to position itself as a market leader in the 2000s as a firm of “lawyers for insurers”. The firm significantly expanded its client base by acquiring numerous new clients in all lines of insurance and remains the regularly instructed law firm for insurers when cases of fundamental and economically significant issues of insurance law are involved. BLD currently represents numerous insurers throughout Germany in a large number of lawsuits on contentious issues of rights of objection and surplus sharing in life insurance, premium adjustments in health insurance as well as business interruption insurance in the wake of the Corona pandemic and Natural catastrophes insurance in the context of accumulation events such as the recent flood disaster in the Ahrtal region.
In the 2010s, BLD further expanded its expertise as a sought-after legal advisor in product liability and product recall cases as well as in the area of D&O and crime insurance. There are numerous examples of international recall cases in the automotive and medical products sectors that BLD has advised on; in D&O insurance, the corruption affair at Siemens or the defence against claims against board members of Arcandor AG, BayernLB, Corealcredit Bank and Lufthansa merit a mention. For some years now, BLD has also been providing liability law support following the crash of a Germanwings plane in the French Alps.
In 2017, BLD joined forces with DAC Beachcroft (UK and South America), Wilson Elser (USA) and Wotton + Kearney (Australia and New Zealand) as Legalign Global to form an international alliance of independent insurance and liability law firms that are all leaders in their respective regions. This alliance allows the firms to offer clients legal advice at the highest level from a nearly single source, even in cross-border cases. In 2019, Alexander Holburn, a representative from Canada, joined Legalign Global, enabling the alliance to offer complete coverage of North and South America.