Legal Fees More Than 3 Times the Actual Compensation in Some Council Cases [16th May 2011]
Statistics provided by councils on Merseyside have indicated that compensation payments to school pupils amounted to £50,000 between 2008 and 2010. One claim for £750 resulted from custard being spilt on the arm of a child, while one pupil claimed £350 for falling over an unmarked ramp. Larger claims include £6,000 for a child who was hit in the eye and £4,500 for a pupil who caught their leg on a screw. Jim Donnelly, a head teacher at a Merseyside school has been quoted in the Daily Mail as saying that health and safety has now been embedded in school life. His school ensures that signs are put up warning pupils of wet floors on rainy days. Other measures are taken to show insurers what they have done to mitigate any claims. The local council has said that the number of claims has fallen in recent years and that they give a yearly talk on health and safety to schools.
It has been revealed that almost £5 million was paid out in legal fees by councils to no win no fee lawyers over the last three years. This is in addition to the cost of the claims themselves. In most cases councils found that they were paying more in legal fees than in compensation. One example is where a claimant received just over £4,000 for a leg injury and the legal fees came to £18,000. The council were forced to pay the entire amount. The government have said that they will be taking steps to tackle this unfair system and drafted changes to legislation suggest that fees should come from the compensation payments themselves. It has been pointed out that the vast majority of cases brought against councils are rejected at no cost to the councils involved.
It has been suggested that banks may be increasing their fees as a way of clawing back the money spent in compensation for the miss-selling of PPI insurance. Just two weeks ago, the British Bankers Association decided to not go to court in an attempt to overturn an order to review all past PPI policies. Since this announcement, Santander has increased the rate on their Zero credit card from 1% to 19.9%, MBNA has increased the fees charged on their Virgin Atlantic card from £115 to £140 and Capital One has increased its annual fee from £18 to £30. The APR on this card has also gone up from 7% to 19.9%. These are not the only examples. Michelle Slade from Moneyfacts, the financial comparison site has said that the banks were never going to take the PPI compensation claims laying down and that rates could rise further when the Bank of England interest rates increase.
Actress, Sienna Miller has accepted £100,000 in compensation from the newspaper The News of the World after she accused them of hacking into her private mobile phone messages. The newspaper admitted to paying a private investigator to intercept her messages. In total 11 stories were written about the actress from information gained illegally. The newspaper will also pay for her legal costs. She will also receive information on exactly what the extent of the hacking was and what information was gained. This is the largest privacy payment made in the UK ever and is one of the test cases for others which are in the pipeline. There are 24 other cases of this nature in the courts at this time and this is the first to be resolved. This result has meant that the case will not go to trial.
£250,000 has been paid out in compensation to people who claimed they were unfairly treated during the G20 demonstrations in London in 2009. In addition to the compensation payments, the police were also forced top pay £140,000 in costs. Most of the claims related to false arrest and one was connected with excessive force and assault. In this case the victim received £30,000 compensation and £50,000 in costs. The police have been criticised for the way this demonstration was dealt with as most people offered little resistance when they were arrested, yet it was claimed the police carried tasers and used excessive force.
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