Outlook: Americans are no better off – their lawyers are just richer
Outlook Every time a bank, particularly one part-owned by the taxpayer, is engulfed in a humdinging scandal like this, one wonders: would they behave so badly if we had a US-style legal system? Would the bankers bin their morals so quickly if they knew a super-brainy, super-greedy army of lawyers was waiting in the wings to rip their legs off in court?
In the US, by lunchtime yesterday a queue of law firms with names like Grabbit, Trouser and Snivel would have launched class action lawsuits against Lloyds, Eric Daniels, Helen Weir, the auditors, the accountants, the cleaning lady. And they would have done so in the name of all the bank's hundreds of thousands of shareholders. Literally.
They would have acted in the knowledge that, were the bank to try to fight them, it would be facing a jury. And most juries are not entirely keen on bankers. In the UK, we don't have such class actions because to launch a group claim here, each and every alleged victim has to sign a client letter and pay up-front. In the US, you can just declare yourself as acting on behalf of all shareholders. Meanwhile, by reducing legal aid availability, the UK government has killed off many other potential cases by the public against corporates (and, by happy coincidence, against the government.)
It's easy to conclude, then, that the US consumer is far more empowered than we Brits to take on the giant companies who abuse us. But then you look at the scandals and rip-offs emanating from US banks, combined with how Washington always seems to favour Wall Street over Main Street, and you realise Americans are probably no safer than we are, but their lawyers are considerably richer.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Ed Miliband less influential than One Direction's Louis Tomlinson in official Doncaster power list
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
California teacher appears to have hanged herself in her classroom
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...
£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...
£18k + Uncapped Commission (£25k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Inbo...