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Monday, 10 October 2011

Who leading who?

A few weeks ago I was at a fringe meeting during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. This packed event was jointly organized by the Law Society's Sound Off For Justice Campaign and Justice For All and focussed mainly on the Legal Aid cuts.

During the question time the voice of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Mr Nick Starling, was heard. He embarked on a predictable attack on the claims culture and why we all pay higher insurance because too many people seek justice for injuries. But he then made a comment on referral fees that left me speechless! He said that the lawyers' fixed fees for a straightforward Road Traffic Claim should be reduced from £1200 to £400. The reason was that lawyers paid £800 in referral fees for a case so when referral fees were banned they would not need it and could take the reduced amount and be no worse off. Well, apart from those of us who would never in a million years pay £800 a go - to pay twice as much for a case as you might earn is reckless to say the least! Unless quality is sacrificed altogether. Mr Starling was put in his place by someone who had been on the RTA portal working group and reminded him that £1200 was agreed to be a reasonable fee for the work. 'Ha' - thought !, 'that put him in his place. What sort of idiot would be taken in by that kind of ludicrous thinking? THE MOJ kind apparently.

Yes, the very next day the Law Society Gazette reported that the MOJ was proposing exactly what Mr Starling had said -

Is this a remarkable coincidence of ideas? Or are the ABI writing policy? Or is the government passing ideas to the ABI? Well they are clearly of one mind. Government policy on justice is at least being influenced by the insurance industry who have the most to gain by a massive reduction in claims. .

This would be more alarming if a key minister behind the changes had a stake in that industry -


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