I was interested to read the article in your April 6 Issue, referring to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the fact that the European Convention on Human Rights already directly affected Scotland.

Although no Human Rights-related compensation claims may have come to the attention of the Law Society of Scotland, this firm is currently instructed in such a case.

The matter is at the Legal Aid stage with the Pursuers (Plaintiffs) having been refused Legal Aid and currently seeking a review of that refusal.

So far as we are concerned, the subject matter hasn't anything to do with any alleged breach of human rights, but nevertheless that is the allegation of the Pursuers.

The extent to which Public Authorities in terms of the 1998 Act become subject to such claims is, in our view, likely to be dependent on the extent to which Pursuers can find a funding source. In Scotland, unlike England and Wales, it is still possible to obtain Legal Aid to pursue damage claims. Whether or not the Scottish Legal Aid Board will be keen to grant Legal Aid in alleged breach of human rights damages cases, remains to be seen. No doubt someone somewhere may eventually challenge a refusal of Legal Aid on this subject matter, claiming that the Board, in refusing Legal Aid, have breached his/her human rights!
James A F Reid,
The Reid Cooper Partnership,

Dual carries on
A further example (one of many that I have seen in recent months):

A friend of a client friend was recommended to me for a quote on his Norwich Union renewal, as the premium through Hill House Hammond had increased to £1,400. HHH offerred an alternative with Haven (also NU?) at £1,025.

The best quote from the 491 products on our MISYS computer system was Norwich Union at £1,781.30. Business placed with NU Direct at £845.59!

If Norwich Union cannot make money at the rates quoted through intermediaries, they certainly won't make money at the rates currently quoted by NU Direct.

If they carry on as they are, insurers with direct and intermediary operations will have less and less intermediary business to subsidise the cheap rates quoted through their direct operations. They will no longer be able to rely upon the relationship between intermediaries and their clients developed over many years to carry their, in recent years, relatively expensive rates.

All other things being equal, premiums quoted by such insurers will go through the roof in 18-24 months time, allowing the real direct writers to clean up.

I could write so much more but have clients' needs to attend to.
Rod Alcorn,
Registered Insurance Broker,

Act aids strike out
Regarding 'Strike Out For Change?' article in the Legal Focus Section on April 13.

This article clearly shows how solicitors representing the insurance industry have not been as pro-active as they should be. The closing comments relate to the Human Rights Act 1998 state that the Act "may have little effect in the courts' decision-making process".

Before the implementation of Lord Woolf's recommendations, we had a large number of firms representing claimants penalised on the grounds of unreasonable conduct for issuing prematurely, especially where liability was not in dispute. When these applications were heard, we were successfully arguing for the striking out and/or the claimant to be penalised on costs. All of our applications proved successful.

With regard to the Human Rights Act, my firm has recently successfully applied to strike out a personal injury claim which was issued just within the three-year limitation period, but without proper forewarning. We argued that our insurer client was itself prejudiced under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Court agreed.

In short, our experience is that the Human Rights Act will have a real impact on the industry – but that it can be used effectively in support of strike out applications.
Ferhat J Choudri,
Head of Defendant Personal Injury Department,
Pitmans Solicitors.

Newhaven plea
I am appealing to the entire industry for help.

Newhaven has been suggested as a site for a waste incinerator which, it is feared, will generate vast amounts of polution. My worry is that Dioxins will be released which will have long-term effects on health.

I am already aware of instances where animals and children born near to incinerators have not developed their eyes and had other genetic defects. This is a characteristic of Dioxin poisoning, as the Americans found out after Vietnam when Dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange was used extensively as a chemical weapon.

Please write, anonymously if you wish, to the above address.

Any underwriters tempted to offer cover should be aware that I fear that a vast number of claims will be waiting in the wings which will make asbestos seem like a side issue.
Martin Cross.

Jequier has not moved
Further to my letter in Insurance Times (April 20th), you mistakenly attributed my employment to Goss & Co in Reading.

I would like to reassure all current employees of that venerable brokerage that I have not ousted the current managing director and currently have no such ambition. I am still a Partner at Jequier Newitt Insurance Brokers. My felicitations to all at Goss & Co.
T Jequier

Re: Insurance Times Letter of the Week – 20th April.
I would like to point out that Tom Jequier is not Managing Director of Goss & Co. nor is he or has he ever been an employee. Clearly there has been an error in attributing his letter to Goss & Co.

I'd be grateful if you would kindly print an appropriate apology in your next edition.
Jeremy Wilson
Managing Director
Goss & Co (Insurance Brokers) Ltd