Things have reached a pretty state of affairs when the security guards manning the metal detectors at Swansea County Court laugh at one's mobile phone when one empties one's pockets. To be fair, my mobile was getting rather old and the power socket had just started to play up. I have therefore gone to Argos and bought a new one for £14.99. Next time I go to Swansea County Court we'll see who's laughing.
It is more expensive to insure a valuable sports car than a second-hand Fiesta. It is more expensive to insure a car in an area with a high vehicle theft rate than one with a low one. Motor premiums are higher for young men than for older women. Premiums are higher for those with a bad claims record than for those with a good one. Why should this be? It's as though insurers somehow base the premiums they charge by reference to the average amounts they expect to pay out when claims are made.
However, we know that this is not the case. How do we know? Because claimant lawyers continuously tell us that if the legal costs that insurers pay out are reduced, as a result of the Jackson proposals and a lowering of the fixed fees in the Ministry of Justice Portal Scheme, it will not lead to a lowering of motor premiums (see example). This is because those greedy insurers will keep any savings for themselves as increased profit.
So, if motor premiums are unrelated to the amounts that insurers pay out, what are they based on?
Dominic Regan commenting in the New Law Journal on proposals to extend the MoJ portal to EL claims by April 2013:
“Short of organising a barn-dance in a minefield, it is difficult to envisage how the Ministry of Justice could cause more harm and upset so many practitioners.”
If you want to go to the Senior Courts Costs Office, don't. Because, of course, the Senior Courts Costs Office has now moved. It is now located in the Thomas More Building within the Royal Court of Justice complex.
To get there you will need to go into the main entrance of the Royal Court of Justice. That is the huge gothic building located on The Strand and the entrance is the one that always appears on the evening news, usually surrounded by a scrum of protesters and journalists. On entering the building you will need to go through the metal detectors and past security. (Sorry, no single sleepy security guard here.) Allow extra time to get through security. Once past security, walk all the way to the end of the Great Hall. Go up the short flight of stairs. Turn left and walk to the end of the corridor until you come out of the building. You will now be faced by another building which is linked overhead to the one you have just come out of. Ignore the new building and walk all the way around it until you get to the other side. You will now see ahead of you a modern squarish 11 storey building. That is the Thomas More Building. The Senior Courts Costs Office is located on floors 6, 7 and 8.
After that, you are on your own.
Oh, and don't be surprised if instead of cosy chambers you find yourself in a large courtroom with the costs judge sitting on a throne 20 feet above you.