Louise Restell, Which?

Restell brought the issue of consumer rights to the fore. She refuted claims that the UK has a compensation culture and outlined seven principles of reforming the claims system:

1. Accessibility

2. Independence

3. Fairness

4. Transparency

5. Effectiveness

6. Efficiency

7. Confidentiality.

Restell said: "Consumers need to know when and how they can claim." Information is the key, and "legal advice shouldn't be tied to insurers' choice... they shouldn't curb access to legal advice".

She was particularly concerned about ‘no win, no fee' arrangements that actually penalised consumers in the event a claim was withdrawn. She said: "ill-founded claims should not be penalised when they are not fraudulent."

She outlined Which?'s position on raising the small claims limit: "We have some sympathy with this." And she also thought "consumers should have a choice in terms of rehabilitation".

A recent Which? survey of endowment claims handlers revealed widespread abuse of the ‘no win, no fee' arrangements, with "14 out of 27 firms charging cancellation fees".

Restell was appreciative of the work done by the CSC in eliminating the bad apples and Which? now recommends CSC members.