January 10, 2013

Following up on all that confusing stuff from last week’s issue about the government wanting to pay lawyers less for going through portholes or whatever, there’s been a flurry of carping in the press, with various legal people voicing unattractively shrill alarm at the prospect of losing all incentive for getting out of bed in the morning.

In a nutshell, HMG have decided lawyers are getting £700 more than they could possibly need to pass things through portholes. The basic idea is that – even if they wanted to – lawyers can’t pay referral fees any more because they are getting banned (the fees, not the lawyers – although, watch this space!) so their costs have dropped by £700, so they can afford to do the work for £500 instead of £1200 – or something like that.

But now cynically self-serving law persons are quibbling that if they weren’t paying referral fees or doing something else equally expensive – like advertising – to attract clients they would have no work and hence be in no position to earn £500, or any other amount of money for that matter, for bunging things through a porthole.

The so-called Law Society recently surveyed all of its members who “conduct” personal injury “work” and reported that 68% of them paid referral fees to get hold of cases and 83% paid something called “other marketing costs”, with the scurrilous implication that PI cases don’t just walk in the door of their own accord.

So what if law firms get paid less to handle PI work! How much knowledge and skill does it really take to shuffle a few bits of paper around and lob the odd thing through a porthole? Get the tea boy to do it, for goodness sake! Better yet, leave the claimant lawyers out of it and let insurers handle things direct.

But perhaps some good may eventually come of all this unedifying whining. In its quest to safeguard its members’ licence to siphon off insurers’ cash in vampirically vast quantities, the Association of Personal Iniquity Lawyers (APIL) appears to have stumbled upon the germ of a potentially brilliant idea.

“If the logic of the Government’s belief as to the effect of the abolition of referral fees on insurance premiums,” a semi-coherent APIL spokesperson blathered, “were applied to the insurers themselves, the Government should make it illegal for insurers to advertise for customers thus saving them a considerable cost which would be reflected in lower premiums.”

You might question APIL’s motives for raising this issue – but just imagine how much better a world we would live in if school children still thought Churchill was a wartime prime minister, if we’d never heard the chirpy electro-fanfare that accompanies that annoying red telephone on wheels, or heard that tit carp on about quoting people happy. Extend the ban to aggregators and we’d be rid of Gio Compario at a stroke – without the need for further (ineffective) intervention by (minor) celebrity assassins – not to mention that meerkat.

Imagine how much more money insurers would be making (i.e. how much cheaper premiums would be) if they weren’t allowed to advertise. In fact, let’s ban advertising altogether and get back to good old fashion word of mouth. Sign our petition here.


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