Sale of services: clarity on legal insurers & unions

I want two pieces of clarity.

  1. The same consumer protection service should cover legal insurers & the legal insurance work of trades unions.  At the moment if you ring Consumer Direct about a rip-off by a trades union, they tell you to try the Financial Services Authority. Try them and they say try the Certification Office. I pressed my point on the phone so the boss of the helpline office rang me back to say that this was not a political thing; unions do other things apart from legal insurance, and that's the reasoning "like getting you cheap food at the canteen" he said. But a legal insurere that also offers human resources advice or is bundled with the services of Cardsave or the Federation of Small Businesses is covered. Likewise unions have no trouble registering with the FSA for their work flogging financial services to the mailing list, but don't want to register as legal insurers. On to the Cerfication Office: "complaints regarding a union’s failure to represent a member adequately, or at all" are not covered. That's what they say on their web site.
     
  2. Legal insurers who use no-win no-fee lawyers should be transparent about it. At the moment some legal insurers pay no insurance premium tax: all the money goes to the broker. They charge no-win no-fee lawyers such as Shoesmiths referral fees, accoding to the company quoted in an Observer article: "It's the only source of income we get", said someone at DAS legal insurance.

    Now, if the whole edifice of a legal insurance company is funded by no-win no-fee lawyers, most consumers would cancel their subscription and think of another way to get such lawyers. They would be right to do so. Apart from a murkey hope that a legal firm can use cross-subsidise cases there is no excuse for running such a service and a murkey hope is no hope at all.

Why is this idea important?

I want two pieces of clarity.

  1. The same consumer protection service should cover legal insurers & the legal insurance work of trades unions.  At the moment if you ring Consumer Direct about a rip-off by a trades union, they tell you to try the Financial Services Authority. Try them and they say try the Certification Office. I pressed my point on the phone so the boss of the helpline office rang me back to say that this was not a political thing; unions do other things apart from legal insurance, and that's the reasoning "like getting you cheap food at the canteen" he said. But a legal insurere that also offers human resources advice or is bundled with the services of Cardsave or the Federation of Small Businesses is covered. Likewise unions have no trouble registering with the FSA for their work flogging financial services to the mailing list, but don't want to register as legal insurers. On to the Cerfication Office: "complaints regarding a union’s failure to represent a member adequately, or at all" are not covered. That's what they say on their web site.
     
  2. Legal insurers who use no-win no-fee lawyers should be transparent about it. At the moment some legal insurers pay no insurance premium tax: all the money goes to the broker. They charge no-win no-fee lawyers such as Shoesmiths referral fees, accoding to the company quoted in an Observer article: "It's the only source of income we get", said someone at DAS legal insurance.

    Now, if the whole edifice of a legal insurance company is funded by no-win no-fee lawyers, most consumers would cancel their subscription and think of another way to get such lawyers. They would be right to do so. Apart from a murkey hope that a legal firm can use cross-subsidise cases there is no excuse for running such a service and a murkey hope is no hope at all.

TV licence fee should be reclassified as a civil offence – not a criminal offence

Please support amendments intended to ensure that the TV licence  fee is recoverable as a civil matter only, following non-payment and failure to respond to a notice issued by OFCOM – not a criminal offence.  This is an unfair and outdated penalty.

The television licence fee is a "despised compulsory impost" and should be scrapped.  The annual charge and the BBC should be funded by other means.

Why is this idea important?

Please support amendments intended to ensure that the TV licence  fee is recoverable as a civil matter only, following non-payment and failure to respond to a notice issued by OFCOM – not a criminal offence.  This is an unfair and outdated penalty.

The television licence fee is a "despised compulsory impost" and should be scrapped.  The annual charge and the BBC should be funded by other means.