January 20, 2011

The game of Young Lions is a charming and energetic variation on the popular British pastime of happy slapping. When idling groups of South London youths spy a late night cyclist passing by, one of their number is apt to cry out “Young Lions.” Upon which cue, various of his associates will give chase, playfully attempting to pull the individual in question from their velocipede and administer a sound drubbing.

In a not altogether dissimilar fashion, personal injury lawyers up and down the land are apparently on the look out for passing ambulances and chasing after them in the hope of being the first to reach a freshly injured new client.

Road safety minister Mike Penning has yet to make any statement on the Young Lions phenomenon, but he has now come out firmly against so-called Ambulance Chasing. Appearing before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport this week, he decried the “Sheer culture” of ambulance chasing, which, he said, “we have inherited from America.”

Is America dead? Does our special relationship entitle us to a share of the legacy? Bankstone News is already confused and we’re only half-way through the story.

“It is quite frightening,” former fireman Penning confided to a no doubt sympathetic group of MPs. “We are going to be in a situation, if we are not careful, where you get lawyers turning up at road traffic accidents.”

If they’re strictly chasing and not actually turning up yet, it’s harder to discern a serious problem – as with the non-contact version of “Lions” played in better policed areas.

“While I want people to get compensation,” Penning declared with admirable generosity of spirit, “if we get to a situation where it is penalising other people in their premiums in particular then we have to do something about it.”

With the ABI claiming that ten percent of every insurance claim now goes to fund the antics of the personal injury lawyers, and premiums up 30% in a year, perhaps the time has come start doing something.

“The situation is completely out of control,” Penning confessed to committee members, noting en passant that he’s considering plans to give insurers access to the DVLA records of anyone who wants to get their car insured, and getting more learner drivers onto Britain’s motorways

“I might have my toes clipped,” he added.


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