Posted by Lewis on June 05, 2006
In Reply to: "Handrail round Britain" posted by David FG on June 04, 2006
: : I have come across a phrase "handrail round Britain" used in a legal context and referred to compensation. What exactly is meant by the phrase?
: Without more detail it is difficult, but I suspect that it is a reference to the increasing litigiousness of the British and the perception that the country is moving towards a situation in which the population must be protected from every accident (by being provided with handrails, for example) lest they rush to the courts for compensation.
: It is something blamed on the Westpondians: it is said that they have introduced the formerly stoic and uncomplaining Brits to the concept that they can get shed-loads of cash if they hurt themselves. I make no comment on this, I merely report it.
Compensation Culture a Myth.
British "Compensation culture" is a myth.
the most successful lobbyist of the last decade have been insurance companies, who have simultaneously campaigned to the willing ear of government that the existance of legal aid was unfair and then set up the alternative funding system of 'after the event insurance' under which they demand large premiums to insure unloseable cases against each other.
official court statistics show that the facts are that year on year less and less claims are being filed, but insurers insist on ever more restrictions before granting cover against the risk of claims, which are often imperceptibly small.
over the years, the most 'silly' claims I have made were 1. a man in sandals kicking a drain cover then treading in dog mess leading to a toe infection (he was a well-known local drunk) and 2. a woman falling down a man-hole/access grating when she stepped into it walking down the street after a couple of lunchtime drinks. she already knew the cover was missing from the outward journey.
in both cases, once I had looked at the evidence, I reported the facts to the legal aid board as being of 'insufficient merit' and no compensation was sought or paid.
for every daft claim begun, I would expect 4 merititous ones end up being unpaid because the insurer exhausts the patience of the claimant.
I have had at least 2 claims where the elderly victim died before the claim was settled and where the insurers held out in the hope of that happening. one involved a rear-end shunt lorry on small car - no question of liability but 3 years of insurers' delays and the old boy died uncompensated.
there is a Protocol now, which many insurers ignore - they are supposed to admit liability in 3 weeks in simple cases but never seem to do so.
the insurers campaign to run the system and make the government's policy decisions.
it is the insurers who leak the 10 stupid cases a year to the press and ignore the tens of thousands with merit that they don't pay out on.
the want small claims to be settled by them sending flowers to the victim - that was a proposal made by, I think, by either ABI or Norwich Union.
get their drift?
claimants don't make the health and safety rules either - look to this government who "gold plate" British obligations whilst allowing the French and other latin european countries to apply much lower standards. it makes Britain a laughing stock to require such high standards, but hey - covering the "risks" puts a few quid in the pockets of insurers, so who cares?
(funny that so many British insurers are foreign-owned these days)
Please check the facts before repeating the myth of 'compensation culture' - the daft are a very small proportion of a diminishing pile of claims.