Half a million Irish customers of Caledonian Life may not get a full say on whether the insurer's British parent, Royal Liver, should merge with larger rival Royal London next year unless local volunteers can be found to fill delegate seats at the mutual.

Nine of 70 seats set aside for Irish members remain vacant despite being advertised for almost a year, but the merger can go ahead without them being filled if 75% of current delegates vote for it.

Royal Liver is seeking the merger with Royal London to shore up its weak capital position and secure the solvency of £3.7bn in funds belonging to two million members in the UK and Ireland.

The proposal is backed by the board, which is close to completing due diligence, but is controversial among members who are reportedly reluctant to give up independence. Royal London is said to be interested in the deal to gain a foothold here.