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In 1865, a pioneering vet named Ephraim Alfred Friend organised a meeting of delegates from the Liverpool, Lancashire and Yorkshire Veterinary Medical Associations, at which the formation of the ‘Veterinary Mutual Defence Society' was decided, with the motto "Defence, Not Defiance".

This motto was deliberately chosen from the start as summing up the Society's intent to defend or settle cases, wherever possible, without recourse to litigation. The founders noted that they met "for the purpose of forming a society for mutual defence against unjust actions at law for alleged malpractice or occasional accidents during operations".

An extract from the first list of members of the then Veterinary Mutual Defence Society, September 1865.

The original aim of the Society was twofold; firstly, to provide funds for the defence of members who found themselves subject to legal proceedings, and secondly, "to provide relief for widows and orphans of unfortunate members of the Society". Since then, the Society has developed into a mutual insurer providing professional indemnity cover for its members, but we are still proud to support the work of Vetlife in its work providing support and assistance to vets in need.