Return of the Jack

13/11/2016

When the UK’s senior judiciary needed to put some metaphorical muscle behind its efforts to extend fixed recoverable costs to all types of legal action, they knew exactly where to turn. The Right Horrible Sir Rupert Matthew Jackson aka, Lord ‘Justice’ Jackson, aka ‘Action Jackson’ is the go-to guy when it comes to kicking legal ass. Now Jacko’s back, you can be sure we’re going to see some serious ‘legal action’.

Regular readers will doubtless have fond memories of ‘Justice’ Jackson’s starring role in the smash hit Jackson Report and its highly acclaimed sequel LASBO which, amongst other things, banned squatting (a perennially unattractive posture at the best of times, and one best left to continental defecators and chairless orientals) and restricted legal aid to persons facing life and death situations.

Everyone agreed that LASBO struck a major blow against the modern curse of procedural frivolity, and admired its innovative innovation of ascribing fixed-price prices to various small scale acts of legal representation. This made legal costs more like items in an Argos catalogue or dishes on a takeaway menu. Which was obviously a good thing.

It wasn’t just punters and insurance companies who dug this whole fixed-price schtick, Jacko recently claimed, while discussing his return to the cost fixing fray: loads of soliciting types were also really keen on it – because it meant they didn’t have to bother working out how much they wanted to be paid for the legal stuff they did themselves or bought in from someone else.

Like an over-zealous new recruit let loose in a 70s retail outlet with one of those old-skool hand-held rotary price sticker printing gizmos, Jacko’s now out to price-up all but the most unusual and exclusive of legal scenarios.

The legal profession will be thrilled to see fixed costs fixed for all cases worth up to a quarter of a million quid, the man they’re calling ‘Captain Justice Pants’ claims, because it will “dispense with the need for costs budgeting, which not everyone enjoys.”

Bankstone News may very well have got entirely the wrong end of every single stick from which this story has been constructed. It wouldn’t be the first time. And, if you want to know about legal stuff, you should probably be reading Legal Highs or The Lancet or something. But, basically, the headline news is that JJ’s back, and stuff is going to get sorted, and everyone’s going to be pleased and relieved to see good sense enforced with the bluff masculine muscularity that’s become Action Jackson’s trademark hallmark.

Anyone who doesn’t like it has until 16 January 2017 to get their mealy-mouthed self-serving whinge-o-rama-thons submitted to [email protected].

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10/11/2016

Since HMG got serious about cracking down on premium-dodging motorists and ANPR cameras got good at spotting uninsured vehicles (thereby affording the few remaining traffic cops the welcome prospect of a quick and easy kill), car crushing firms (and vehicle auctioneers) have been living in a era of plenty. But times could be a-changin’ ‘fore too long.

If like Bankstone News you’d naively assumed that HPI’s CrushWatch initiative was an initiative aimed at nothing more complicated than the simple pleasure of watching cars getting crushed, you probably need to join us in revising your assumptions.

It turns out that HPICW has borrowed an umbrella from the Florida Libraries Association or the Azores Liberation Front or someone and is using it to identify seized vehicles that are rightfully the property of leasing companies and SAVING them from being crushed. Yes, we know: it is confusing!

The bottom line, however, is that CrushWatch has been doing pretty well with its borrowed umbrella, from beneath which it has been rescuing uninsured vehicles worth around £8m a month! According to HPI industry relations head Barry Shortass CrushWatch is playing a key role in clamping down on overzealous clamping down by APNR toting road cops and saving car lenders shedloads.

Which is all well and good, Bankstone News supposes. But you have to admit there’s something to be said for the old crush-first-ask-questions-later approach. And for those who still prefer the good old fashioned fun of watching a “classy” BMW getting mashed up by a grabber and a squasher, here’s a reminder of happier times.

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07/11/2016

If you thought putting the clocks back was just a harmless annual ritual carried out to appease bad tempered Scottish farmers, think again!

As you will recall, the clocks went back just over a week ago. Perhaps you’ve noticed a change? Maybe you’ve found that everything on telly’s already finished when you sit down to watch it? Maybe you’ve noticed clocks around your house starting to disagree with one another? Or maybe… (cue dramatic and scary sequence of three ascending organ chords) you’ve noticed that a maelstrom of metallic-impact mayhem has suddenly been unleashed on Britain’s highways and byways.

If you’ve noticed that third thing, you could be onto something. Telematicists Insure My Box have performed a quite prodigious and unprecedented feat of number crunching to reveal that there are 10% more RTAs than usual in the four weeks after the clocks go back. And between the hours of 5pm and 8pm, the equivalent increase is as high as 30%.

Insure My Box person Charlotte Hulklet says these latest figures prove unequivocally that “there is no doubt accident risk increases as a direct result of the clocks going back one hour in autumn.” Why might this be, you are probably wondering. It could be that we forget each summer how to drive in the dark and then get totally blindsided by the sudden reappearance of darkness in late October.

For many young drivers who have learned to drive over the summer, Charlotte points out, this could be the first time they’ve ever encountered darkness. On which basis, who could blame them for driving into things they can barely see – especially if they haven’t switched the headlights on or something.

Stopping this clock-changing nonsense each year could save many fledgling drivers from pranging up their motors, Charlotte argues.

Perhaps she’d like to lead the delegation that presents that case to a horde of angry crofters lined up, Braveheart style, in an anachronistic combination of tartan, woad and skinny plaits.

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06/11/2016

Here we go again. Cue throbbing and cascading strings, thudding percussion, doomy choral undertones, and intermittent steely slicing sounds. Cue swirling overhead footage of monolithic Docklands office blocks and brown shoes traipsing round the City. Cue voiceover announcing “six ambitious candidates, all with one aim.”

Bankstone News is never happier than when settling down amidst the old crisp packets, papers and pizza boxes on the stained and battered office Chesterfield to watch the latest new season premiere of the insurance world’s most foremost reality show, Broken Apprentice.

If the entertainment edge of last year’s shows was somewhat dulled by the inclusion of several drearily competent candidates, BA 2016 so far shows no sign of similar shortcomings.

In Episode 1 ‘Meet the Teams’ we encounter for the first time the traditional complement of four boys and two girls (gender balanced, but not excessively so).

So who have we got this year? Well, there’s Craig, an amiably softly-spoken, vaguely Tolkienesque, well-padded presence, with shiny pate and farmer’s beard. There’s Frankie, a young woman whose superficial demuritude and conservative attire mask a will of iron. And there’s Jonathan, whose puppyishly eager – but somehow perpetually cowed – demeanour positively demands nurture and sympathy.

Then there’s Dean, whose peroxide-topped hairstyle and waistcoat-and-shirtsleeves look give him the appearance more of a tailor’s than a broker’s apprentice. There’s Szymon, who presumably once attended a CII local dinner and hence comes dressed as James Bond. And finally there’s Katie, who has clearly just returned from holiday and sports some dramatically sculpted eyebrows.

Asked to self-describe to camera, they respond as follows:

Craig emphasises that he’s keen to learn, describing himself as a bit of a sponge for knowledge at the moment.

Frankie says she is quite fresh in the industry but has a lot to bring and a lot of ideas.

Jonathan says he entered BA because he wants to build relationships with people, to put himself under pressure as such, and to show that he is actually capable of winning something

Dean says he likes to try new things at all times basically, because you can’t do the same thing everyday.

Katie says that, if she is looking at it, entering BA is a good opportunity and that she always wants to help herself develop, adding that she’s probably going to win because she brings many fresh new ideas, is good at working as a team and also really good at leading as well, and is constantly driven to succeed – to the extent that she is actually scared of not succeeding!

Szymon (pronounced, it seems, the way former King of Pop Michael Jackson used to mispronounce come on) says he’s very serious about his professional career and wants to start developing it as soon as possible, and also hints at a potential clash with Katie – because he too thinks he will win, due to his very strong personality and his belief that he is clever enough to do it.

Watching this lot go up against one another is sure to make compelling viewing!

The contenders are quickly split into two B-G-B trios. But there’s a problem, points out taskmaster in chief Mike Rain, MD of the best insurance company in the whole world, Elvy Broker Insurance. Mike is an “established insurance face”, the voice-over assures us. The problem is that Team 1 and Team 2 are not the kind of team names a show like BA can live with.

The contestants’ first task, accordingly, is to come up with something snappier, something with, shall we say, a touch of showbiz razz-ma-tazz, before retiring for some much needed rest before heading out into the City for some kind of treasure hunt in Episode 2.

First to tackle the name-choosing task is the team comprising Jonathan, Frankie and Craig. Jonathan suggests something along the lines of Assurance, Reassurance, something like Reassure, because, that’s what brokers do, really isn’t it. Craig is loving where Jonathan is going with this, beaming widely and getting it all down on his A4 pad. Despite some somewhat noncommittal nodding while Jonathan is talking, Fran is clearly not impressed. Skipping the customary line that goes something like “I think that’s a really great idea but how about…” she cuts in with “What if we just go snap and quick and like Team Elite or Elite Team or Invictus – something quite edgy and that has meaning behind it?” Her team mates wonder if Elite doesn’t perhaps sound a bit high net worth or elitist or something. But Fran has spoken and will not be swayed. Eventually the other two fall in to line. “Team Elite comin’ atcha!” declares Fran to camera in the style of Honey G.

When we drop in on the second nomenclatural conclave, Shzymone appears to be advocating a name that “says something about us as a team,” something, he suggests improbably, something… “fun”. “Popular at the moment,” Dean ventures, is Pokemon. “There is a Pokemon team name Valor,” he notes, which is “a good word for a lot of situations.” Could this be one of those situations? Perhaps it could – especially once Shamone recalls that there’s a DC Comics character called Valor (aka Lar Gand, aka Mon-El, aka M’Onel – you think we make this stuff up?!) which clearly adds a certain super-human frisson. Valor even sounds a bit like the English word Valour meaning courage or something. Glamorous Katie, cross-legged with a deal of limb-flesh on display, is sold. Valor’s a good name she reckons, because because it appeals to a business audience, to an “adult audience”, and to a “child audience”. So Valor it is, then.

Who’ll come out on top when the two teams are unleashed on an unsuspecting EC3 in an urgent quest for insurance related knowledge? We’ll have to wait for Episode 2 to find out.

Bankstone News for one is not at all sure it can!

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Team Elite celebrate their aspirational self-identification

05/11/2016

Let’s face it, who bothers reading the small print on Facebook! Not car insurance provider Admiral, that’s for sure!!!

Earlier this week Admiral announced that its smartphone app Firstmotorcarinsurancequote would be trawling users’ Faceboot posts to work out what kind of a driver they might be. Just hours later, Facebook announced that: Oh, no it wouldn’t!

Shame really, because Admiral’s tech people had clearly put a lot of work into creating some fiendishly sophisticated algae rythmns that can somehow judge a person’s driving characteristics based on how often they use exclamation marks and words like blazin’, rat*rsed, burn and turbo.

What they hadn’t done was read the bit in Facebook’s ‘platform policy’ that expressly forbids the use of “data obtained from Facebook to make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan.” With a bare minimum of extrapolation, this pretty clearly suggests that stalking facebook usage for underwriting clues might not go down too well.

Never mind that Facebook was only planning to stalk willing victims, who would clearly have had the option of creating separate alter ego Facebook accounts that talked exclusively about choir practice, world peace and animal welfare – with none of the over-emphatic language and exclamation marks that signal recklessness and wild abandon at the wheel.

Following its slapback at the hands of Faceboot, Admiral is concentrating on maintaining some semblance of dignity, insisting that its social media surveillance plans have merely been delayed, while the company works with Faceboot to resolve “a few outstanding issues”.

Civil liberties groups were unimpressed with Admiral’s botched surveillance play. Ren Samsung of Big Brother Watch condemned Admiral’s initiative, reminding social media users to mind what they revealed about themselves online.

But, seriously, WTH!! YOLO!!!!!

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04/11/2016

With the pound now at parity with the Zimbabwe Dollar and inflation set to hit 1000% by Christmas, the Government has some important economic decision making to do.

Not the least of the decisions it needs to take is how to drum up some extra tax revenue, now that insurer ‘body’ the ABI has formally forbidden it from raising IPT again as part of Phillipe Hammond’s forthcoming Autumn Collection.

The Association of Brutish Insurers has put Theresa May on notice that she needs to find some irresponsible people to tax instead of ramping up the IPT (or Insane Punishment Tax) levied on insurance sales.

“Stop this raid on the responsible,” the ABI demands. Otherwise people will stop buying insurance and then where will we be! IPT is an especial blight, the insurer body argues, on the millions of families who are “just managing” i.e. precisely the people T-May has said she wants to help.

Just managing families are essentially good people. They genuinely want to buy insurance; but if IPT turns them all from just managing to not quite managing they might start abandoning or diluting their commitment to insurance purchase.

The government should freeze IPT, the ABI says, or, better still, reduce it. People should be rewarded, not penalised, for “doing the right thing” Jim Dalton of the ABI says. “Any further hike in IPT,” he warns, would “affect millions of people directly in their pockets.”

If HMG ignores the ABI and whacks up IPT anyway later this month, perhaps insurers could do what the supermarkets are doing with exchange-rate fuelled food price increases and ‘absorb’ any IPT hike to protect the pockets of their policyholders.

Just managing insurance fans would certainly appreciate that!

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