There are few more caring professions than lawyers – but what they care about is what worries us. Radio ads encourage you to go to them when ‘something goes wrong in your life’ because they’ll be in your corner (for a fee of course). But what will that fee be? Well that’s the bit that is a tad unclear. And that’s the bit that’s costing you, the consumer, dearly.
Never disagree about a good fee
As in life there are exceptions, but from our own years of dealing with them we would view our ‘learned friends’ as knowing about one thing; they may appear to disagree in court but afterwards they can definitely agree on a healthy good fee. The Troika tried, and failed abysmally, to get competition amongst the legal profession. Dealing with excessive legal fees is another of this government’s failed promises and policies. Lawyers can, and do, more or less, charge whatever they like.
Cynical? Possibly. True? Probably
There are some fig leaves of them having to advise about your rights, possible costs, possibility of success but at the end of the day they have the protection of the courts. What we at ISME mean by that is that much of what goes on in the courts is a mystery to the man on the number 48 bus. Whether a case needs a senior counsel, two juniors or three solicitors seems to depend on what the other side decides to do. If they attack with guns you’ve got to get bigger guns. Should a case run two days or two weeks seems to depend on how busy the attending lawyers are. And who wins in the scenario? The lawyers who keep each other busy. Cynical? Possibly. True? Probably.
Judges have come through the ranks, attended the same law schools, practiced together, they socialise together, speak the same legalese, and apart from some professional rivalry they are all part of a very lucrative club. That is why figures today from the trade body Insurance Ireland may explain why judges are so generous with your money in insurance cases.
Whiplash three times worse in Ireland?
A whiplash injury in the UK costs €5,000. In Ireland that figure is a shocking three times higher, at €15,000. Worse, the level of personal injury awards in the High Court has rocketed from €219,000 in 2010 to €304,000 last year – despite everybody else in the country taking a hit of up to 40% on their incomes during that period.
The Insurance Ireland report says;
Motor injury awards made by the Injuries Board averaged €21,000 in 2014, 80% of motor injury claims were for whiplash.
More than 90% of claimants to the Injuries Board were represented by solicitors even though the Injuries Board was meant to be a lawyer free zone.
Approximately 40% of Injuries Board awards are rejected by claimants partly because some solicitors adopt a policy of non-cooperation, claimants not turning up for medicals, not supplying loss of earnings information so that the Injuries Board cannot make informed awards. And following the inevitable rejection of the award the case is subsequently litigated, generating additional legal costs.
Every award made is paid for by business and the consumer. Higher insurance premiums have to be paid for by higher prices for goods and services. The people not paying for these pay-outs are the judges. And though there’s not meant to be any correlation between awards made and legal fees charged, well we leave that for you to judge.