The other day I saw a headline that screamed - 'Poll shows 86% agree 'compensation culture' exists'! Wow, lock up your daughters, the bogeyman is coming to get them! This survey is obviously following the present government's mantra that 'claiming is bad' and how anything that promotes an individuals rights should be shunned and treated with distaste. I then wondered what if I am wrong and this survey is correct; perhaps there has been a massive sea-change in how people perceive those who make legal claims? I then saw that the 'poll' in question was run by the Insurance Times and then wondered what sort of readership they may attract. I discovered that their readership consists of 'Finance & Financial Services: Insurance' (Information from ABC Standard Certificate of Circulation 1/7/11 to 30/6/12). We must therefore conclude that the majority of those taking the survey via their website will be financial services industry personnel (I accept that promenading Consumers may find the site and survey and contribute but they will surely be low in number?). It then raises the question; just how valuable to the whole debate on the future of bringing a legal claim is such a survey?
Contrast this with the article from Tim Kevan who asks the question - 'Am I the only person in this country to be tired of the government and the populist press banging on about the so-called compensation culture?' The answer; no you are not! He highlights the disproportionate debate about fraudulent claims and quite correctly points to the fact that these occupy a very small number of claims and how legal professional's will go out of their way to avoid dealing with such matters! He discusses the attack on a health & safety culture and how again there is a lack of understanding of what is going on. He points to the fact that there are very probably people out there who have or want to claim but feel that they cannot because they don't want to be seen as fraudsters or perhaps jumping on some health & safety band-wagon.
At the beginning of 2011, we wrote an Open Letter to Lord Young (by the way we had no reply!) who had produced a report to the Prime Minister on the nature of making claims and the promotion of what he saw as a 'compensation culture' gone mad. Within our letter, we carefully defined our authority to comment, the proposed quango cuts and their effect on Travel Consumers accessing help with their holiday complaints, and how claims are made. We discussed the nature of holiday claims and how they were tied into the provisions (introduced by the Conservative government in 1992) of the Package Travel Regulations. We highlighted the nature of the difficulties being faced by Consumers when trying to fight their corner whenever a travel company seeks to avoid the Regulations and claim that they are selling a so-called DIY Holiday; it was an unavoidable conclusion that the Consumer may have to enter into more not less litgation to resolve his complaint! We highlighted that by our calculations, the travel industry, through their failures in the holiday contract, were directly or indirectly responsible for the extra cost of returning holiday illness in the UK of some £222+m per annum. This is a cost that they do not pay - that is you and me, business through lost hours, the National Health Service and - Insurance Companies! We even quoted the Claims Management Regulator who reported a contraction in the operation of claims management companies; proof that Regulation of the industry was working? It was we concluded, an attempt by him and others to return to the 'Golden-Age' of litgation, a land where time has forgot!
So if you read statistics about a perception of a 'claims culture gone mad', you should pause, because if the views of those who advocate major changes prevail, it could be your husband, wife, son, daughter or grandchildren or friend who will be prevented from accessing advices or making a legal claim for that holiday from hell!