Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

Full Circle

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Some, including myself, are old enough to remember the days pre No Win No Fee.

A regime where if you were low paid or on benefits you could pursue a claim for Personal Injury through Legal Aid.  There were times when our potential clients of “middle income” could not afford to pursue a claim.  Any risk, no matter how low was treated as a risk.  And so No Win No Fee Agreements were introduced and for a while ran alongside Legal Aid.

Suddenly my numbers of “middle income” cases increased.  Access to Justice was increased!!  A good day for all!!  Did any of my new type of client complain?  No.  Did they argue and question why they should pay something from their damages, be it success fee or insurance premium?  No.  Why not?  Because at that time people including myself recognised that this was a new benefit.

People who had never had access to justice because of the prohibitive costs could now get justice.  Amid this new regime, where clients can lose up to 25% and have to pay insurance premiums let’s not lose sight of the fact that yes there has been change.  However are we in a better position than prior to No Win No Fee Agreements?  Yes.  I would still like to think so.  Time will tell.

Unreasonable Expectations

Friday, April 5th, 2013

As my 7 year old becomes more and more like a teenager I find myself turning into my mother and questioning why the younger generation have so very different expectations and demands on life to my own.  At the risk of hearing violins playing I never expected presents other than at Birthday and Christmas.

A treat would be a cinema trip or tea out at a Wimpey Bar.  No Macky D’s back then!   I still remember tucking into their apple pie and ice cream and thinking my life was heaven!  I now look at my own children, dancing lessons; gymnastics; swimming lessons are not “treats” but an expectation.  Why can’t my eldest have an IPOD?  Why can’t she have whatever she wants?  I am under no illusion that apple pie and ice cream will never satisfy her.  And so where did I go wrong?  Where did responsibility move to expectation?

I find myself likening my domestic arrangements to my Professional life.   My clients were previously prepared to lose part of their damages to be allowed to recover most of the same.  We then as a Profession said “have it all” you are entitled.  However at what cost?  And there was  a cost.  Insurance premiums escalating; middlemen taking their cut (both insurance companies and Claims Management Companies).  We as a Profession let this petulant child continue to stamp its feet to the point some were paying clients part of their expected compensation (before they’d even won a case!)!!  The House of Cards would inevitably tumble and now we are all looking back at where it all went wrong?

A New Medical World

Friday, April 5th, 2013

How would you like a new push button system of diagnosis with your GP?  It would no doubt cut NHS costs.  “If you have a cough press 1”, 1 is pressed followed by a list of other sub-symptoms, – coughing up blood? any flem? Dry cough” followed by after pressing another button “how long – 2 days or under; 1 week or under” followed by a series of endless telephone button pressing whereby I would wait for “sorry you are terminally ill”.  A horrifying and hopefully never to be seen system!!

Yet here we are, having accidents which affect our health, wealth and inevitably happiness and we are happy to be passed to a call centre to deal with our claim.  We crave our doctor’s personal touch (not too literally!) simply because as human beings we are social creatures.  We like to tell someone face to face how we feel.  We like to have that personal reassurance when looking in their eyes and that sigh of relief when we are told what we are facing.  My clients aren’t a form; they aren’t something that I can fit into a tick box.  Their accident no matter how small will have affected them.  To them they may be wary; frightened; worried about the future; nervous; not sure what to do!  Solicitors are there for a reason!  We are the “doctors” as far as your legal requirements go.  If we continue to systemise everything where will it all stop?  Let’s hope not at the NHS!