Thursday, 8 July 2010

On CCTV And Compo

Shhhh ... don't tell Alex Deane, but Puddlecote Inc employs CCTV. In fact, we have done for a couple of years now since Wayne Chav and Solomon Junkie trashed half a dozen of our vehicles parked in and around our premises. For a bit of fun.

Kids today, eh? So creative.

Since we've had it installed, the formerly customary bag full of empty 1664 cans and the used needles we'd become adept at clearing up from the doorstep, on many a morning, have ceased to materialise. Mr Puddlecote Sr occasionally satisfies his curiosity by looking at what happened the night before, but apart from the odd fox crapping on the cucumbers (we thought it might be fun to try growing a couple), nothing goes on around there anymore.

With the sole exception, that is, of one camera once picking up the movements of a burglar escaping from the old people's home across the way. The police found it very helpful when we were exemplary neighbours and transferred the footage to a disc. The images in question were captured by a camera directed at the car park which the council (who administer the old people's home, remember) have now said we can't use. Fair enough, then. That camera will now be taken down - which saves us money - and they can catch their own criminals in future, the ignorant twats.

I digress.

The reason for mentioning CCTV is following an interesting story from Mrs P this evening as we soaked up the sun at the boy's cricket practice. For background, she works for a company which contracts services to major chain stores. As a consequence, she occasionally fields complaints from the stores' customers (or, more accurately, their solicitors) looking for a payday.

One such anecdote from today. A haughty e-mail was received stating that the ambulance chaser's client had slipped and fallen at one of these stores on April 4th, and that there were nine levels of Hell about to follow unless readies were coughed up sharpish. Mrs P checked the calendar and - rather quickly, as one might expect - worked out that this was Easter Sunday when the shop was closed. As claims go, it was a simple one. E-mail followed by a limp reply and no apology.

Being a stubborn and reactionary soul, I suggested that I might (in fact, would) have pursued some serious fun if placed in the same situation. I'd have gone after them in the same threatening manner as was first advanced from the other side. I'd have enjoyed it too.

Especially since - now get this - each claim is instantly budgeted for a potential loss of £5k. That's how much each lucre-sniffing lowlife is entitled to claim for what used to be just an unfortunate occurrence. You can put signs up all over the place, but the {cough} highly-respected legal profession will do their utmost to prove that, even if it was 10 foot tall and in dayglo paint, it was invisible and therefore no-one else's fault but a business doing their best to earn a profit.

Five. Fucking. K.

What's more, I pointed out that if Mr P was in the same job, I'd have been looking to collaborate with the stores to fight each and every case to its ultimate limit. All stores are fully CCTV'd up and could put this nonsense to bed if it faced down every claimant who took the mickey.

But, as you may have noticed, this claim materialised three whole months after an event which was apparently so life-changing that it required £5,000 to fix. It's rather difficult, time-consuming, and therefore costly to businesses, to trawl through recordings from that long ago in order to present a defence. As such, many are just settled to save the hassle and extra expense of legal representation.

You haven't heard the best bit yet, though.

Apparently, this £5,000 - let's just cross-reference that in words as required by a cheque - FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS, is claimable for three years after the accident.

So, to defend themselves from frivolous legal action, each business in the UK must keep CCTV records for three whole years. I'm pretty sure that there are very few that can do so even if they tried, and the ones who can are probably so cash-rich that they would rather pay out than go through the rigmarole of checking if the claim is worthy or not.

I kinda understand the risk-terrified nature of businesses more after tonight.

Now, forgive me if I'm way out on this one, but wouldn't limiting compo claims to about a month (enough time to talk to the CAB and seek representation) make one hell of a difference in sorting the deserving from the money-grubbing opportunists?


BTS said...

I don't suppose you could recommend any large stores locally with a particularly poor record for cleaning up spillages in aisle three by any chance?

I ask merely for information..

1327 said...

My brother works for a legal firm that handle claims for the firm that looks after Job Centres under a PFI contract. Those places are CCTV'ed to high heaven so what does the chav do ? You fall off the toilet of course. The toilet just happens to be in the only room that doesn't have CCTV. Although I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Simon said...

Perhaps Cleggy could scrap no win, no fee legislation. One of the worst pieces of legislation introduced by Maggie's crowd.

If I were Mrs P I'd be tempted to send a bill for compensation for lost time working it out and also the shock and hurt feelings for receiving such a clearly false claim.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Julia: Comments were messing about. Apols.

BTS: Not really, no. Although I'd advise avoiding this one.

1327: Well, they're inventive, I'll give 'em that.

Simon: The 'do unto others' principle. Like it. :)

Pogo said...

Keeping three years copies of CCTV shouldn't be that onerous a task... Nor too expensive in comparison with p*ssing-about with vexatious litigants.

Dump it all to DVD once a day, label with the date and bung on the shelf in a nice cool room. They should last for three years before degrading and DVD+R blanks cost less than 20p each in bulk.

Best though is "Simon"s suggestion that the legislation permitting solicitors to use contingency fees - leading to the, accurately predicted by many in the profession, massive rise in "ambulance chasing" - should be scrapped.

Mrs Rigby said...

Amazing! Five years to claim for a twisted hair follicle, or something that wasn't immediately obvious, when the legal time limit for dying as a result of injuries (manslaughter) is still a year and a day - or did they change that too?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes. Good idea.

BTS said...

Dude, I was hoping for a heads-up before you got the Zippo out..

J Bonington Jagworth said...

"If I were Mrs P I'd be tempted to send a bill for compensation for lost time working it out and also the shock and hurt feelings for receiving such a clearly false claim."

If I were Mrs P, I'd have hung onto the evidence and allowed the matter to go to court, just to be able to prove perjury and claim costs, but I expect she's nicer than me.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Deliciously spiteful, JBJ ... I love it! :)