What it’s like living in England: bank support chat line

Online chat at bank – problems with PIN since at least November 2013
– names changed. This is really what it’s like living here:

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Jane: Hi, you’re chatting with Jane. How may I help you?
MM: How can I phone you please? I have been trying for weeks to get a pin unlocked, long story, and today yet again I was given advice which didn’t work (unlock pin only at the XBank, not at Tesco – Tesco machines don’t always work). Yet again, Pin is locked!
MM: Before Christmas they promised me a new pin in the post, but it never came.
MM: It turned out they had two different addresses, in Germany and UK, for me (but both should work)
Jane: Hi M
MM: Went to XBank this week and they cleared up the address problem and said PIN OK
MM: Hi Jane!
Jane: A couple of moments please while I read the above
Jane: Are you still getting the message pin locked when inserting the card in the reader?
MM: Yes, exactly, just now. After ‘unlocking’ it at XBank machine outside XBank in Upminster this afternoon
Jane: Okay as you are still experiencing issues I can order a new card on the account
MM: This will take weeks again, won’t it? I’ll have to wait for the new PIN etc.
Jane: Your replacement debit card will be with you in 5-7 working days.
MM: It took weeks when I first got it because no one told me I need an e-card-reader.
Jane: I am very sorry you have experienced this issue
I will do as much as I can rectify this today
MM: That sounds like the best way to go. Can I arrange a payment online, or shall I just wait?
MM: While I’m moaning, sorry about this, not your fault, I must add
MM: that in December I went to the branch and they told me the e-card-reader needs the online pin, not the card pin. This was wrong!
Jane: In the meantime you can call us so we can arrange payments out from the account for you M
MM: And today I phoned XBank, can’t find the phone number any longer, and they told me my mistake had been to unlock the pin at Tesco.
MM: I just want to make one payment, it isn
MM: isn’t urgent, but it would calm me down and I could forget about XBank for a week
Jane: So I can have the issue resolved asap
Jane: Can you please confirm your full name?
MM: MM, attorney for GRM
Jane: Would you like me to leave the current card on the account active?
MM: It’s not necessary if I can just make that one payment by phone, perhaps, or via you
MM: It isn’t my bank, just PoA for my aged brother, don’t use card much (obviously, the PIN doesn’t work!)
Jane: Okay of course you will be able to make the payment over the phone and I have left the card active so you can still use to make purchases etc
MM: Thanks, Jane – can you tell me the phone number please
Jane: Of course
Please find the contact details for our Personal Telephone Banking team below:

Open 24 Hours a day. Calls may be recorded.
Jane: The card has been ordered to the address above
MM: Thanks very much
Jane: A pleasure to help
Jane: Are you happy that I have fully and correctly answered all of your questions today?
MM: Yes, absolutely.
Jane: Great
Jane: Thanks for chatting with me and have a fantastic day.
Please click here to end our chat and let me know your thoughts on the service you have received.
Jane: I would be grateful if you could take a moment of your time to complete the attached survey in connection with the service I have provided today.
MM: OK, I suppose it will appear

Buried in their own garden

I have a feeling this wouldn’t work in Germany, although you can apparently bury your cat in the garden there, if the garden belongs to you.

The Natural Death Centre, a charity for natural burials, provides useful advice on the practicalities of grave digging on its website: “If you are digging a grave yourself, you need to be careful and have help. If you are fit and enthusiastic, it should take about three hours work to dig a four foot deep grave.

“Try and shore up the first two feet of the grave so that it is supported when the mourners stand around it, and work steadily so that you don’t strain yourself. You might want to take a bucket to stand on so that you can get out of the grave at the end of a tiring day!”

Problems of moving from one country to another

The heading of this blog should now say ‘no longer in Fürth’, unfortunately. But I will get round to that one day, I hope.

Curious factoids:

1. In the UK you can order postage stamps online from various places, but only Royal Mail can send you 88p stamps – the standard for the EU. Another service refers to these stamps as ‘weird and wonderful’ denominations.

In Upminster, you can definitely buy one 78p plus two 5p. This is in the main (sub-) post office.

2. It costs only about 25 euros to have post sent on by Deutsche Post for a year, but Deutsche Post does not recognize postcodes that are longer than 5 digits. Thus the first half of the UK postcode is isolated and identified by them as ‘Länderkürzel’. The county appears straight after my name, the house number after the street. This would all be OK if only the postcode were there. However, after a phone call they have ‘fudged it’ by putting the postcode after the town name – which of course is where it should be anyway.

No wonder the service is so cheap – it is self-annihilating.

St. Jude’s Day Storm/Orkantief “Christian”

It’s strange coming back a day after the storm that hit the UK and hearing on the German news how the same storm is described here.

In the UK the reference to wind speeds seemed more common, but on German TV I heard about 12 on the Beaufort scale. In the UK the storm, originally ‘probably the worst storm since the 1987 storm’, became ‘the St. Jude’s Day storm’, whereas in Germany it was ‘Orkantief Christian’.

The Daily Telegraph remarks that in the UK we don’t name storms:

Laura Young of the Met Office said it wasn’t them. “We don’t actually know where it has come from,” she said. “We don’t name storms in the UK. It could have been Americans who named it and it was reported. Or it could be someone here saw that it was St Jude’s day and decided to name it that.” Traditionally, our storms only merit a name once we have seen the damage they have caused, not before.

LATER NOTE: I forgot the most important thing: the German reports kept showing people whose houses and cars had been damaged by falling trees and saying whether they were insured and exactly how many thousand euros’ damage had been caused. In fact, practically every report on a road traffic accident in Germany is accompanied by an immediate and precise account of the financial loss. How do they know that? I’ve never heard it in the UK.

Lord Justice Leveson

The Leveson Report, the result of the Leveson enquiry on press law, has been published today. The Guardian summarizes:

Leveson said that his proposed new law would enshrine “for the first time” a “legal duty on the government to protect the freedom of the press”. It would also allow the new body to set up a low-cost libel and privacy tribunal to handle complaints instead of the courts – and provide “benefits in law” to those who signed up. Those who do not sign up would be denied the ability to reclaim the often substantial costs of litigation – even if they win – from complainants bringing libel, privacy or other media related actions.

The question now is: why do so many people who should know better think that Lord Justice Leveson is a lord?

A Lord Justice is a judge in the Court of Appeal.
Judges in the House of Lords were Lords. Now the court is the Supreme Court.

Thus Dame Anne Judith Rafferty is a Lord Justice of Appeal
(plural apparently Lord Justices).

IEL 9: The term “Common law”/Der Begriff “Common Law”

The meaning of the term “common law”

This term has at least four different meanings.

1. (in contrast to local law) The law common to the whole of England after 1066, as opposed to local law (which had existed before 1066 and continued to exist to some extent after 1066). This was the original meaning of the term. This common law was the law made in the King’s (or Queen’s) courts. E.g.

The common law was developed gradually over a period of time, beginning in 1066. Eventually it became a rigid system and ceased to develop to any great extent.

The term is only used in connection with legal history.

2. (in contrast to legislation) Law made by the decisions of judges, as opposed to legislation (statutes), which is law made by Parliament. This meaning arose because the law of England was often made by judges. Another expression with a similar meaning is “case law”: much of English law is case law. E.g.

Murder is a common-law offence ( = its definition is contained in an old report of a legal case where the judge defined the offence of murder in the course of giving his opinion). Theft, on the other hand, is a statutory offence (its definition is laid down in a statute, the Theft Act 1978).

3. (in contrast to equity) The law developed by the old common law courts, mainly between the 12th and 14th centuries, as opposed to equity, a separate legal system which grew up later, and was developed first by the Chancellor and later by the Court of Chancery). E.g.

The common law became so rigid that people used to apply to the Chancellor for a remedy. As a result, equity was developed. However, equity eventually became just as rigid as the common law (or: just as rigid as the law).

At law trusts were not recognized, but in equity they were.

Legal remedies, equitable remedies

4. (in contrast to other legal systems) The law of England and Wales and all other legal systems based on it. E.g.

The USA, England and Australia are all common-law countries

Note also the expression “a common-law wife” ( = the woman a man is living with, without being married). This term is used in England without any legal significance, but in some US states and in Scotland there is a form of legally recognized common law marriage (cohabitation with habit and repute).

Cat woman fined/Geldstrafe für Katzenmisshandlung

No doubt all readers saw the video of Mary Bale stroking a cat and then dumping it in a wheelie bin, whence it was reclaimed 15 hours later. Just in case not, here’s a short video with English soundtrack and German subtitles (from the Swiss 20 Minuten news programme).

Yesterday Mary Bale was fined (Independent report).

A woman who was caught on CCTV dumping a cat in a wheelie bin was fined £250 today after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to the animal. …

Bale, who appeared close to tears, was fined £250 plus £15 victim surcharge and costs of £1,171.4p.

She was also banned from keeping or owning animals for the next five years.

District judge Caroline Goulborn told Bale the potential of the offence to have caused harm to the cat was substantial, but in reality it had not been hurt.

Just a bit on the legal details: A district judge is what used to be called a stipendiary magistrate. Most magistrates’ courts, which deal among other things with petty crime, have a bench of three lay magistrates, but in big towns there are court with just one stipendiary magistrate – now called a district judge – who is legally qualified and so doesn’t need legal advice from a clerk nor to withdraw and deliberate as a bench of magistrates do.

In England and Wales, prosecutions are made not only by the Crown Prosecution Service, but by other bodies and even individuals. If the CPS had prosecuted, the costs would have been about £1,100 less. This prosecution was by the RSPCA, and according to the Magistrate’s blog, Cash in the Kitty, the RSPCA just claimed all the costs it could think of.

Lawyers’ costs compared/Anwaltskosten England und Deutschland

The Jackson Report on the reform of civil litigation costs in the UK was published in January 2010.

The final report and the two volumes of the preliminary report can be downloaded here.

Interestingly, at the end of the second volume of the preliminary report there are descriptions of the system in other countries, for instance Chapter 55: Germany, pp. 555 to 565.

1.1 The German rules of civil procedure contemplate cost shifting, albeit according to well-defined scales for recovery. The effect may be that a successful litigant is entitled to recover a smaller proportion of its actual fees than would be recoverable in England and Wales.
1.2 The German system permits the use of contingency fees only in limited circumstances, namely where a claimant does not have the means to retain lawyers for his case. Legal aid is available in certain civil cases.
1.3 In Germany, civil litigation is managed by the court so that it controls the proceedings and the evidence that is brought before it. One method by which the court does this is to appoint experts to assist the court on relevant factual issues, rather than leaving it to the parties to adduce their own expert evidence.

Useful footnotes too:

According to German Civil Procedure Code section 3(1), the value of the dispute is to be determined by the court in its “absolute discretion”. I am advised, however, by senior German judges that in practice no discretion is involved when the litigation concerns quantified or readily quantifiable claims.

Interesting reading and good for vocabulary too.

Returning to the UK, the shadow on the horizon is LPO – Legal Process Outsourcing, which will permit some work to be outsourced, for instance to India.

(Via the euleta list at Yahoo Groups).