Wednesday, 20 December 2017

US-Style Class Actions Introduced Into The UK : Solicitor Anna Morfey explains why the change is "really significant"

A newly introduced law allows British courts to hear US-style class actions - where one or several people sue on behalf of a much larger group.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will make it far easier for groups of consumers to seek compensation from firms that have fixed prices and formed cartels.
It introduces "opt out" actions where everyone affected is automatically a member of the "class" which is suing.

Consumer groups say it is a huge step forward in helping secure compensation.

Fixing the prices
Previously, when groups of consumers or small and medium-sized businesses wanted to take action against companies who fixed the price of goods or services, on - for example - replica football shirts or air fares, it was very difficult.
All of those affected had ether had to "opt in" to the action or bring a claim in their own name. As individual losses were small and legal costs and risks high, few did.

Such were the problems with opt-in actions that there has only been one of note. This was when consumer body Which? sued JJB Sports which had taken part in fixing prices of some replica football shirts. 

The action was settled and consumers who joined it who had paid up to £39.99 for certain England and Manchester United football shirts, during specific periods in 2000 or 2001, received a payment of £20 each.
JJB Sports also agreed to compensate those who bought one of the shirts but did not join the claim.
They were entitled to £10 if they presented either proof of purchase or the shirt itself, with its label intact, at a JJB Sports store.
It was all a bit messy and many who bought the shirts did not join the claim and so did not get any money back. 

Under the new law, everyone who purchased the overpriced goods can be automatically "in" the claim unless they opt out. 
It means there will be strength in numbers and consumers could get their money back without lifting a finger.

"The new collective redress rules will give consumers more power against unscrupulous businesses that have been found guilty of anti-competitive practices," said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

"Now everyone who has been affected will be automatically included so more people should get redress and sooner."
He added the move was good news for consumers and responsible businesses because "those caught acting illegally will be made to pay the price". 

'Billions in damages'
Under the new law, claims have to be approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
They can be brought by a suitable representative of the group affected by the price fixing, who then advertises the claim in order to make others in the group aware of it and would then distribute the money. Any residue goes to charity.
Two kinds of claims can be brought. 

Firstly, so-called "follow on" claims that follow a competition regulator's finding that there has been an infringement of competition law. 

Secondly, "standalone" claims which are not based on an infringement decision. This frees up claimants to seek damages for any competition law violations - not just those the regulators have chosen to pursue.

In the US, class actions are far more widespread with damages awards running into billions of dollars.

Class actions have been filed in the US over the Volkswagen emission test scandal
They are not confined to cases where companies get together and fix prices. 

Claims against retailers and manufacturers relating to faulty goods and services can also be brought. 
Class actions have been filed in the US by groups of consumers affected by the recent Volkswagen emission test scandal. 

In the US, juries hear the cases and set the damages, which can then be trebled by the judge.

'Safeguards including'
So, will the new regime really see US-style class actions with huge pay outs?
"The regime incorporates a number of safeguards against what are perceived to be the 'excesses' of the US system," said Anna Morfey, a specialist competition law solicitor with the London firm Hausfeld.

"In particular, the fact that the losing party is typically required to pay the winner's costs acts as a deterrent to frivolous claims in the UK.
"But there are other important differences - no treble or 'exemplary' damages, and no jury trials of these claims in the UK, will mean damages awards really are compensatory and not windfalls for claimants."

What is clear is that companies who fix prices now face a much greater risk of being sued by all of those who have paid the inflated prices.

Class Action Explained
The Competition Appeal Tribunal decides whether the "class representative" is representative of anybody else who would want to sue 
Safeguards to prevent frivolous claims include strict conditions to be met before a claim is approved as "opt-out" as opposed to "opt-in"; and rules governing damages and costs
"Opt-out" provisions only apply to UK-domiciled consumers or companies.

Taxi Leaks Extra Bit : 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing in England & Wales

This paper sets out the licensing arrangements for taxis and private hire vehicles and their drivers and the enforcement of those licences. It also looks at some of the issues currently of concern to the industry and licensing authorities.

As taxi licensing is devolved in Scotland and Northern Ireland this paper only deals with England and Wales. Once the Wales Bill becomes law, licensing will also be devolved in Wales and this paper will be amended to cover England only.

The present law varies depending where one is. The licensing conditions that are applied to taxis and PHV drivers and the local conditions of vehicle fitness are for each local licensing authority to decide, so can vary considerably from area to area.

In England and Wales, outside London, taxis are licensed by district councils under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847or that Act as amended by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. All taxis and their drivers must be licensed. Private hire vehicles (PHVs), sometimes referred to as minicabs, drivers and operators are subject to licensing if a district council has adopted Part II of the 1976 Act (most have) or has similar provisions contained in a local Act.
In London, the taxi legislation dates back to the nineteenth century, but the main licence conditions are made under the London Cab Order 1934. The minicab trade in London is licensed by regulations made under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.
In Scotland taxis and PHVs are licensed under Part II of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, as amended. Licensing works in much the same way as in England and Wales.
In Northern Ireland taxis are licensed under the Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 and PHVs
The legal framework in England and Wales, including London, was reviewed in 2012-14 by the Law Commission, which published recommendations and a draft Bill in May 2014. The Government has yet to publish a response to this and indicate whether it intends to implement the wholesale reform proposed by the Commission. The Coalition Government made minor changes to the law in the Deregulation Act 2015. The Wales Bill includes proposals to devolve responsibility for taxi licensing in Wales.

Both the taxi and private hire industries are facing challenges from new technology, and from legislative change, causing concern and anger amongst a number of operators and drivers. This is a particular issue in London where Uber has been subject to legal challenge and its use by PHV drivers in London has proven deeply controversial.

The issue of quantity restrictions is dealt with in a separate note (SN2772). Information on other roads- and traffic-related issues can be found on the Roads Topical Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN02005
Author: Louise Butcher
Topic: Roads
Download the full report
Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing in England & Wales (   PDF, 501.12 KB)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Advice From An Ex Copper About Video Evidence ... By Jason Clauson.

I would like to offer some advice re video evidence.. as a ex Copper (and now GB) i have dealt numerous times with video evidence ....and behaviour WHEN being videoed.

Best advice ... SPEAK ... you may see whats happening on footage but as you all know different interpretations or releasing footage after a certain event can change what people think.

So .... commentate .... if you are dealing with a vehicle ... say out loud  the reg number .. location ..  number of occupants .. description of driver. 

So if its not evident on tape it is because you said it.

Swearing in the heat of the moment cant be helped ... but staying calm does help. Deep breaths. Dont focus on one thing ... keep aware of all around you.

Personal confrontation .... say lots ....

'Keep away' or 'keep back' ... shows the direction of aggression .. ie towards you..

If you raise your hands ... do it open handed ... it shows no weapon .. shows less aggression coupled with verbal description of get back or get away .. so if you are being filmed by them or us you are not seen as an aggressor.. 

If attacked all and any means defend yourself

• 1st rule ... RUN AWAY .... cant get hurt if you aint there.

• 2nd rule ... if you cant do 1st rule ... strike and retreat ... 

• 3rd Rule ... DONT GO TO GROUND ... you are too vulnerable..

I have won cases on video evidence because of clear and unambiguous verbals.

Speaking as someone who was injured many times on duty in my 30yrs including knife wounds I know my actions saved me from much worse injuries ..

Lets be safe out there and back eachother up whenever we can.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Mobile Phone In Vehicle Use....New Penalties Jason Clauson

Many of you may know that Iam a retired PC now GB. I was a Traffic Cop for 10 of my 30yrs. I have been heavily involved in dealing with many serious and fatal collisions and hundreds of prosecutions for these offences. I have read and heard a lot about the 'changes' in Mob Phone law so I thought I would try and clarify some things including some misleading info from Govt / police. Take it or leave it but its free advice and a bit of clarification.

Firstly ...the Law has not changed .. only the Penalties relating to phone use.
There are many offences relating to behaviour in a vehicle that are being discussed and not just the Mobile phone Law.

In so far as a phone goes .. the offence of Using a Hand Held Mobile phone relates to an unsecured Mobile phone that is used .. meaning Calling Texting Interacting with the phone whilst in the hand, on the lap, on shoulder up against ear.

So any interaction with phone not in a cradle can fall into this.

Not being in proper control of a motor vehicle covers everything else .. not just phones .. drinking, eating, driving one handed, reading a book, interacting with a phone in a cradle or a satnav. Literally anything .. the evidence must show that whilst doing the 'Thing' the vehicle was not controlled properly .. ie steering or braking impeded, wandering from lane to lane, not looking whilst moving, turning too wide or cutting a corner etc etc. ie anything that distracts you from driving safely and carefully.

Driving without a Proper View Ahead .. this relates to anything positioned in front of or blocking the view of the driver.

The area that this relates to has been described as the 45 degree view etc etc .. dont confuse yourself .. the drivers side wiper blade arc is a great guide to show the bare minimum .. I would have dealt with offences on the 2 thirds of the screen from the drivers side. Certainly NOT the area where the Tax disc and now the TFL CC sticker is some have commented on.

Now the subject of the engine on off .. the law re mobile phone use {handheld} tells you that to safely make a call the engine should be off and key out. This is right and stops the defence of sitting in traffic and using the phone . pull over stop safely and make the call. 

 Ineraction with a phone in a cradle. Well interaction with any control of the vehicle instrument radio dashboard etc if not done safely would fall under Driver Not in Proper Control. Same as a phone in a cradle. One single tap to accept a call or a job on an app and NO MORE if done in a safe manner will not fall foul of this offence .. more than that yes it will.

To accept a call in a vehicle it must be via a bluetooth headset , in car bluetooth or Bluetooth speaker all requiring one single press or tap to accept or cut off the call.

Note this does not include a wired headset .. these by definition are Personal Hands Free Kit and not for use either by defibition or design in a vehicle .. for that you need a Vehicle Hands Free Kit. 

Any use of a wired headset would most likely fall under Not in Proper Control .. but also if the phone is loose .. between your legs .. on the dash .. in the centre console etc would also be under Hand Held Phone Use.
In the wrong circumstances it could stretch to Dangerous Condition as it may interfere with ANY controls of the vehicle ...  inc indicators lights steering etc. You have to think of worst case scenario here as well as a Collision investigator will pick apart everything and present it to the Crown or Coroners Court.

Dangerous Condition could also relate to positioning of phones or satnavs.

Driving Without Due Care & Attention WDC .. this covers almost anything you do in a vehicle .. meaning driving that falls below the standards of a carefuland competent driver.

The bottom line is that these offences have been around a long while and the raising of the Phone Offence Penalties is a reflection on the epidemic use of phones and all the other offences that come along with them. The legislation may not have changed but the manner in which these offences are detected and dealt with has .. and court fines and punishments will go up as well to set examples.

So my advice is .. when you take a call .. if you have to do it with a bluetooth bit of kit and make it short and sweet.
Idfd you use an app .. accepting a job with a single tap if not done safely maay lead to one of the above offences so think carefully about how you do this .. and in any event .. pull over safely .. read the info you need and then get on with the job.

When taking a card payment .. again .. pull over somewhere safe .. not a corner or crossing nor over a side road etc .. and once there handbrake on & in park .. then do what you have to do.

This is not what the targetting is about .. sensible responsible behaviour is whats needed to stand us out away from the crowd .. allow the focus elsewhere.
My thoughts are based on strong experience of death and injury and destruction that you should feel lucky not to have seen.

Ask yourself this .. the person you care about most in the world is walking across a road ahead of me .. how do you want me to be driving?
Attentive ...Concentrating .. Alert .. OR
Distracted by a phone or satnav or app?

You know the answer .. so give that same respect to other peoples loved ones.
Thank you if you got this far

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