Tuesday, 29 November 2011


It is a slow day in a little Greek Village . The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waffling bankers - again!

Two significant points of interest arose in the course of a property purchase during the last few days - one topical and the other - well, incredible.

Client buying residential property with the assistance of a mortgage from High Street Bank represented in this particular transaction by associated firm because we don’t deal with residential property.

Father and his son are occupiers of the property, but not parties to any of the transactions.  Bank, very reasonably, requires signed forms of disclaimer of equitable interests.

There’s some confusion about whether or not the two occupiers are required to seek independent advice but rather than debate the point where time is pressing, the two head off to another law firm where they are told “we can’t help, because you are not our clients”.

An approach to another law firm, another established conveyancing practice, elicits a “we would like to help but we are sorry we can’t”.

They take a little more trouble to explain that they don’t get many requests for this type of exercise now and in view of the amount of time required to comply with regulatory and other requirements, have decided as a matter of policy not to do it.  It isn’t cost-effective or worthwhile from a risk perspective. 

I find that entirely understandable.  These are the sorts of reasons why we choose not to deal with any residential conveyancing.

These were two firms that have established practices in that field, choosing not to undertake the particular task for similar reasons.  This is for privately paying clients who, within reason, were not in a position to haggle - they just wanted the job done.

Trite point but this doesn’t augur well for the survival of poorly paid legal activities in various guises.

Not much to say about the bank in all that?  Well, don’t despair because the bank ultimately stole the show.  How?  Breathtakingly!

My associate did all the necessary and submitted the report on title to the bank and then made arrangements for completion with the seller’s London lawyers, subject to arrival of funds.

Whilst waiting for the mortgage monies to arrive, he then took a call from the purchasing client to report that she had the mortgage proceeds of more than £¼m in her personal bank account, courtesy of the lending bank.

The bank’s explanation?  That’s the procedure - the monies go to the customer who then passes them on to the solicitor.

The solicitor of course then completes the transaction, obtains the documents of title and is able to complete the bank’s security which protects its investment...

We only act for the good guys, of course, but in other circumstances that bank might have been lucky that the telephone call didn’t come from a luxury hotel or cruise ship in the Caribbean. 

It’s good to see that things have tightened up during the last three years.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Life's little dramas...

400 people set to lose their jobs as Aviva announces closure of its offices in Bristol, according to BBC News West this evening.

I suppose at some stage they'll attribute this to "the rising cost of claims" and blame accident victims' solicitors above all others?

We can be sure it won't be anything to do with shareholders' returns, executives' remuneration, the end of cheap off-shore labour, or the loss of referral fee income streams.

The announcement reportedly comes "at the conclusion of a joint-venture with RBS". Another role model if ever there was. I do hope they're still managing to pay their former CEO's pension of £938 per day.

And they wonder (they say) what all those people were whining about outside St Pauls Cathedral.

Just one of "life's little dramas" ?