Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Win, win, win - and win again

Well done Jack Straw for blowing the lid off a scam that some of us have known about and complained of for ages.

Most ordinary folk I talk to resent the notion that their own insurers should be quietly profiting from the sale of their data to enable unknown third parties to profit from their misfortune too. Seems a natural reaction.

So - insurers sell the claim and make hundreds of pounds a case. In the course of doing so they help to fuel what they collectively decry as 'compensation culture' and potentially increase the number and value of claims, which they then have to pay (subject to the usual tedious and despicable techniques to avoid and delay).

And the cost of claims rises.

Neat answer to the problem they have helped to create and/or exacerbate? Increase premia. Make the punters out of whom they are already secretly profiting pay for the downside of this grubby process.

Oh, and then blame claimant lawyers. 

Use that propaganda and false statistics to persuade gullible senior political figures who think the country has 'never had it so good' to pass legislation that makes it uneconomical for innocent victims to get decent representation and adequate compensation.

Tell claimants they can trust insurers to be fair (ha!) and pay what the claim is worth, that they won't get any more if they go to a lawyer.

Insist wherever possible that claimants use legal expenses insurers that are (ultimately) under the control of the companies who pay the claims - whose hand they will not bite or be allowed to bite.

Nirvana - sell the claims and make some money, get rid of hostile lawyers to keep compensation low, make victims bear more of the cost of using lawyers - and still charge the punter more on renewal. 

Win, win, win - and win again.

What a filthy trade.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Cutting edge courts..

One of our local courts, as others, now accepts filing of documents by e-mail. Hurrah!

Well – in principle, at least.

So we e-mailed a formal reply to a defence last week but the court staff were seemingly not empowered to open the attachments.  Everyone else, almost without exception, to whom we send documents in PDF format seems to have no difficulty with Adobe Reader –described as “the global standard for reliably viewing printing...”

One recipient did recently but they were using the comparatively ancient Version 7.  Adobe X is free to download and takes minutes to do so.

(What puzzles me is why the court staff confirmed that they were able to open another document that was sent by separate e-mail in exactly the same format.)

But the simple answer when you have the technology is to convert to good old JPG which even someone still running Windows 2.1 would be able to open…

….yep – you’ve guessed it!

So we’ll use the fax.

No we won’t – because the court office does not have one any more, where e-mail filing is “enabled”. 

The march of technology – awesome isn’t it?

We were told we shall have to send it by post.  Right…

…maybe we should use “Special Delivery” courtesy of the Royal Mail (see last Wednesday’s post)??

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Guaranteed Delivery

It’s a lie.

Today we took delivery of an A4 brown envelope posted on Monday 13 June 2011, at a cost of £7.

It bears the Royal Mail Special Delivery sticker endorsed with the assurance “guaranteed by 1pm next day”.

It was delivered to us at business premises that are open throughout normal business hours every weekday on Wednesday 15 June.

This is the second time in about five weeks that we have received “special delivery” packages on the day after the next working day, in breach of the so called guarantee.

As a bonus, the envelope delivered today was so badly damaged it was just managing to cling onto its contents.

So, how much is this swindle worth to the Royal Mail every year?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Exam Hell

Most of us have to take exams at some point in our life.  A few people enjoy it..

We don’t need muppets setting questions that are not just “impossible”, but truly impossible.

A fundamental gaff hit the headlines last week but how many times does it happen?  How many more cock-ups happen at the start or the end of the process?

Distrust and lack of integrity in the system is on the up.  Reliance upon it has fallen.

Through a couple more generations we shall create a new breed of “examiners” that probably struggle to devise a question, even if they can string enough words together.

There will be no accurate measurement of ability.  How will employers recruit?  Probably just on the basis of who talks a good job.

Many of those will be making it up.  They will probably make up a few more things when they get in and others will follow.

So it spirals. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

No (waste of) expense spared

We often wait weeks for reasonably simple matters to be processed by the county court and for straightforward orders to issue.  It is very frustrating and it wastes time and money.

When it comes to allocation questionnaires, courts seem regularly to push what are in my humble view more important things to one side in the haste to dish out peremptory orders if the questionnaire is filed even a few hours late.

A recent example...

We have a small claims matter where the questionnaire wasn’t filed on the appointed day.  Ironically, the reason was that we took seriously (many don’t) the requirement to check dates of availability of witnesses and awaited a return call from the client.

So the fax went first thing the next morning.  We even troubled to ring the court to check that the staff had seen the endorsement that urged them to ensure it went straight up to the District Judge.

We had anticipated of course that the moment there was non-compliance with something so serious as the filing of an allocation questionnaire, the file would hurtle upstairs.

The staff assured us that the letter was received even that, yes, it would be brought to the Judge’s attention straight away.

Two days later, we had an unless order.

Two blank printed questionnaires (we use electronic forms), guidance notes (er, thanks...) large envelope and a stamp ensured that more time and money that the Court Service does not have was completely wasted.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Last Friday I had to inform an employment tribunal of the need to adjourn a telephone hearing later that day. We sent our letter by e-mail which is the usual medium now. 

It came back with the report that the Tribunal’s mailbox was full.

We tried telephoning but nobody answered. 

Fortunately we had the option of fax left, so we used that.

As a matter of courtesy and caution we still made repeated efforts to get through on the telephone to check that the fax had been received.  After an hour or more of trying my secretary did make contact with somebody who said that it hadn’t appeared at their end.

The explanation was that the fax machine had run out of paper more than an hour earlier, but nobody had noticed...

One short example.This is typical of our justice system today. 

Cocooned in its overloaded world.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Money down the drain - part 3..

The Treasury Solicitor’s office (TSol) is still heading for some sort of special award in wasting tax payers’ money.

In one current case against the MoD, I have recently had a formal request for some further information about aspects of the claim.  There is a provision for such a step to be taken in Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules and so the enquiry is generally known, logically, as a “Part 18 Request”.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that in abstract or in context but let’s see how much time and resource we can waste doing it….

First, I get the request by e-mail, with covering letter, which is ideal – and all we need. Endex. 

We didn’t need the fax copy, which came minutes later, nor does it help us where we shall be word-processing our response - not typing onto the second copy of the request that my fax machine has now printed – and sending by e-mail (only).

We certainly didn’t need the postal copy that arrived the following day with not one, but two, further copies of the request which, for reasons explained in relation to the fax above, we won’t use.

So the fax copy letter and request went in the shredder.  With it went the postal copy and the further two printed copies of the same request.

I shall probably keep, just to demonstrate the stupidity of it all, the envelope sent by recorded delivery at a cost of £1.32 which enclosed the third and fourth copies of the request.

TSol…………you’re fired!!