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......Finally, for a really informative free information service and newsletter on the Web, take a look at lawontheweb. [...] There's good advice, useful contacts and some light relief. Best of all, the site is kept bang up to date with the latest legal developments.........
(Tuesday 24 February 2004)
Cameras, insurance and fines: everything a canny motorist needs to know
Online by Richard Susskind
MOTORISTS who fall foul of the increasingly draconian speeding laws should turn immediately to www.lawontheweb.co.uk. This site provides a wealth of information on road traffic offences, including guidance on speed cameras, motor accidents, mobile phone usage, seat belts and car insurance. A handy table of driving offences is presented, indicating for each the likely penalties and whether or not disqualification or fixed-penalty options are possible. A free “road reckoner” is available to answer that age-old query: “What will I get?” The site also has links to road traffic lawyers, with a reassuring tariff of fixed fees for their services.
(Sunday 26 October 2003)
That'll be three points - and £1,500
For motorists on the A610 outside Nottingham, there is a hazard lurking at the side of the carriageway.
In just three years, speed cameras have caught more than 98,000 drivers for speeding on a two-mile stretch, one of the highest success rates in the country. With the number of cameras continuing to grow, an estimated 1.5 million-2 million drivers will be on the receiving end of speeding penalties this year. What many may not realise is just how expensive a mistake it will prove to have been.
The majority of those caught speeding receive a fixed penalty notice, which means having your licence endorsed with three penalty points and paying a £60 fine. But if your insurance company decides to increase your premiums as a result, the cost is likely to be many times more than any fine.
Online legal advice service Law on the Web has carried out research into the amount of loading insurers add to your premiums as a result of speeding offences. It applied for a quote from a number of online insurers, then repeated the exercise changing just one detail: the addition of two fictitious speeding offences a year apart, each consisting of three penalty points and a £60 fine.
The premium quoted, it discovered, increased by between 28 per cent and 44 per cent, depending on the insurer. Since insurers take into account offences in the last five years, Law on the Web reasoned that for somebody paying the average premium for a comprehensive car insurance of £687, the extra cost over five years would be between £961 and £1,511. Martin Davies, founder of Law on the Web, said: 'It is certainly a good way for insurers to up the premiums when they want to.' Whether it is fair to do so, he said, 'comes down to the argument about whether speed causes accidents. For example, if somebody is doing 37 miles an hour in a 30mph zone, particularly if that's on a clear road in the middle of the night, I'm not sure if that greatly increases the risk of accident.'
Speed cameras - and the role that speeding plays in contributing to accidents - have become a highly emotive issue. The Association of British Drivers argues that the Government's emphasis on speed cameras is at the expense of other safety measures, such as educating drivers and improving roads. Nigel Humphreys, a spokesman for the ABD, says: 'Our view is that most speed tickets given have no relation to safety issues.' He adds: 'I think insurance companies should be obligated to be more open about how they calculate premiums, and they should also demonstrate that a speeding offence does demonstrate an increased risk.'
Moreover, is it fair for insurers to penalise drivers for speeding when the Government's own evidence shows that the majority of drivers are breaking the speed limit at any one time? A study by the Department for Transport in June showed that of vehicles monitored at random at 98 sites around the UK, some 56 per cent of those in 30mph zones and more than half of those on motorways were found to be speeding.
Motor insurers are reluctant to provide any breakdown of how they calculate premiums. Malcolm Tarling, a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers, says that insurers don't look at speed offences 'in isolation' but at a variety of factors including the driver's age and their driving history. He added: 'Insurance companies don't look for excuses to raise premiums. It is a free market so motorists can look for somebody who offers a better premium.'
Insurers insist that where premiums are increased, it is justified. Direct Line's spokeswoman Emma Holyer says: 'If you have two drivers who are otherwise the same, but one has three penalty points and the other doesn't, our data show that the one with the penalty points is more likely to be involved in an accident.' Norwich Union makes a similar claim, although neither insurer could produce figures to support this assertion. Just how many drivers have speeding endorsements is unknown - even to the DVLA - but one estimate is around 12 per cent.
While you might get away with one speeding offence without paying extra premiums, get two and it will cost you dear. What's more, insurers count your points for five years - even though courts take them into account for only three years and they have to stay on your licence for only four years. And if you don't tell the insurance company you have points, your insurance could be declared invalid in the event of an accident.
If you do receive a speeding ticket, and your insurance is bumped up, you can always try shopping around for a cheaper premium. Next year, the founder of Direct Line, Peter Wood, is launching a new insurance company, First Alternative, that will specialise in drivers perceived to be higher risk.
Online law firm makes it big by winning a Yell.com award
Since the peak of the NASDAQ in March 2000, many internet businesses have struggled to survive. Few can boast a near 20-fold increase in unique user numbers and the successful spin-off of an additional and profitable Web site.
However, these are exactly the achievements of former solicitor, Martin Davies, and his Web business, Law on the Web (www.lawontheweb.co.uk). It all started in July 2000, when the legal dotcom won the best personal Web site at the Yell.com/Awards.
In February 2000, Davies gave up his job to put his energies into his site and began by asking a friend to nominate Law on the Web for the Yell.com/Awards. At this time, the site had 1,000 unique users, by August 2000, a month after the award, the number had jumped to 5,000 and in June 2001 it was 19,000.
(1 February 2001)
***** An incredibly detailed and comprehensive site featuring a wealth of information on all aspects of law. In addition to offering free legal advice and judicial news, tips on DIY law (a selection of links) and legal basics.
BBC Radio 4's Law in Action
(23 November 2000)
Reporter Kirsten Lass did a report into Law on the Web and named the site as one of their four "chart topping legal gateway sites".
ITV's The Web Review
(4 October 2000)
"Lawontheweb.co.uk addresses the fact that finding and using a lawyer is a scary and sometimes costly experience and we all know that most lawyers are nothing like Ally McBeal. This site attempts to make the whole caboodle as simple and approachable as possible.
To start with it is written in plain English and is in easy to understand sections that should help you find what you’re after. The Legal Basics is a good place to start as it covers the major areas of law including family, property and wills. These are explained in a question and answer format which seems a bit restrictive but does work quite well.
If you want more detailed information or actual advice on your particular case then there is some free legal advice available on the site. You can e-mail in your question and they promise to get back to you within a couple of days. But as you would expect on a law website there is a legal waiver in small print at the bottom of the page. No sign of dancing babies though.
Kate : Richard, what did you think of the site?
Richard : I thought it was excellent because so many people are frightened of the law and find it intimidating as a lot of family problems people have, they want some basic advice before they go to their solicitor. I thought it was written in a nice clean style, very accessible and really welcomed people in.
Kate : I thought this site did a really really good job of using plain simple English to explain things. There was stuff on here that I never understood, or admitted to not understanding, but now it made it really clear. I thought it was really good.
Richard : I thought their approach was a very pragmatic approach, it was not very preachy. There was a section on traffic offences for instance which I thought was quite useful because it didn’t preach. It didn’t say you’re a speeder, you’re a bad person.
Kate : I thought it was very useful, it really does demystify the whole process. I’ll give it 8/10."
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
(dotcom.telegraph 31 August 2000)
top 10 websites : consumer advice
Law on the Web - Not as slick as Desktop Lawyer, but a very useful site that explains the law in simple terms and helps you find a lawyer. Also has a Legal Fun section which can't be too easy to fill.
A report on the YELL UK Web Awards 2000
Best Personal Site - Winner : LAW on the WEB
A clear and accessible site with top-quality legal information for free. You can find a lawyer, learn legal basics and even use the Ask No Questions section to get free advice on a particular problem. Asked why he decided to build this extensive personal page, Martin Davies, solicitor and webmaster of Law on the Web, says, "I was keen on the Web and wanted to see what I could do. As a solicitor it made sense to work with something I knew and I thought that there was a need for this sort of site. A year later, and with about 20,000 hits per week, plus this nomination, it seems I might have been right."
He built the site using Frontpage and has been working on it full time since February. "We try hard to keep the site up to date and relevant, as well as easy to use and understand, which is not something lawyers are renowned for," says Davies.
The judges had particular praise for the sections offering free advice. Davies has plans to improve it further. "Our new Ask No Questions free legal advice service has been a big success, and we are extending the free legal information area of the site to include a new Can I Claim? section for those who have suffered injuries in accidents."
THE SUNDAY TIMES
(Webwatch, 23 July 2000)
As best personal website, the deserving winner was www.lawontheweb.co.uk [...]. His free advice appeals to anyone deterred from seeking legal help by the prospect of extortionate fees, and includes tips on buying a house, a guide to working out if you can claim for injuries following an accident and a searchable database of web-friendly legal specialists.
(Information, April 2000)
Billed as a information resource designed to make the law more accessible, it provides free information and is maintained by a solicitor formerly in private practice in the UK. The site was recently reviewed by BBC Radio as "one of the best online legal resources sites in the UK" and provides, among other things, legal news and basics, details on how to find a lawyer and a wealth of links intended to help ordinary people establish their rights.
BBC Radio 2 - Steve Wright Show
(24 November 1999)
One of the UK's best online legal resources - LAW on the WEB. It includes litigation, conveyancing, probate for beginners, "Find a solicitor" all at www.lawontheweb.co.uk.