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Investigator arranges sucessful charity golf day

October 4th, 2011 by Chris

We are pleased to announce that one of our investigators, John Greetham recently organised a very well supported charity golf day.

 

John was joined by over 50 other golfers one Saturday recently to raise money in aid of St. Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley and Winston’s Wish a charity which provides support to bereaved children, young people and their families throughout the UK.

£2500 was raised on the day with £2000 going to St. Catherine’s and the balance going to Winston’s Wish who are going to use the money to train a teacher at a local school in bereavement counselling.

 

We congratulate John on his sterling efforts and hope that with his new found talent for event management he can organise some events for GH Consultants in the future.  Watch this space!

 

GH Consultants Spring Quiz

April 1st, 2011 by Geoff

Our Special April 1st Quiz with a prize (small) to the first person with all the right answers

 

Question 1   Burke and Hare were

1 Process servers

2 Body snatchers

3 Accident investigators

 

Question 2    The official national language of India is

1 Hindi

2 Legalese

3 Punjabi

 

Question 3   To return to the Enterprise Captain Kirk had to say

1 A single to orbit please

2 Beam me up Scotty

3 Transport one captain and two bit part actors please

 

Question 4   In the First World War the enemy was called “The Hun”.  Where did the Huns come from?

1 Hungary

2 Germany (near Prussia)

3 Hungerford

 

Question 5    If you shout “Mush” to a Husky dog what are you telling it to do?

1 Run

2 Stop

3 Fetch my slippers

 

Question 6   The Christmas Carol “Silent Night” was first played on a guitar as something had happened in the church. What had happened?

1 The church organ had been damaged by mice

2 The organist had suffered a fall and broken his hand

3 Snow was blocking the organ pipes

 

Question 7   T.E.Lawrence, usually known as Lawrence of Arabia, having survived the war in the Middle East was killed in Dorset.  How?

1 Fell from a ladder

2 Car crash

3 Struck by lighting

 

Question 8   The machine used to re-start a human heart that has ceased to beat is called a

1 Defibrillator

2 Cardiometer

3 Ventriculator

 

Question 9   In the Sherlock Holmes books what sort of hat does he wear?

1 Top hat

2 Deerstalker

3 Bowler hat

 

Question 10  After the end of World War 2 many foods continued to be rationed.  When did fish and chips come off rationing?

1 1946

2 1951

3 1954

 

Once you have the right answers you can contact us here.  If you enter, don’t forget to also like this post on either the Geoden Agency Facebook Page or the Herdens Facebook Page to be entered in for a second chance to win!

Red Nose Day 2011

March 30th, 2011 by Chris

 

To support Red Nose Day this year, the staff in the office all made an effort and dressed in red.  They also enjoyed some lovely red nose cakes which had been cooked by Kathryn.

Burns Night

January 25th, 2011 by Chris

As a claims investigator and process server I spend much of my time out of the office and “out” can cover quite an area.  I’ve probably been to most of our County Courts  and there are few major towns and cities I have not visited in the course of my work.

A year or two back I ended up across the Border in a part of Southern Scotland called Dumfries.  It was whilst travelling around Dumfries and Ayrshire that I came to learn a little about one of, if not the, most famous Scotsman of all time, the poet Robert Burns.

As today is Burns Night I thought it might be helpful to tell some of my fellow Sassenach friends and colleagues what it is all about.  I’m sure you know it involves haggis and scotch but there is a little more to it you know!

Robert or Rabbie Burns was born on 25th January 1759 to a farming family in Alloway in South Ayrshire.  He spent many years in poverty and had to work hard as a child which left him with a stoop and poor constitution.  He was lucky enough to receive a good education however and tried his hand at poetry when about 15 years old.

The family’s situation would not permit Robert to take up poetry full-time so he worked in various manual jobs whilst writing his earlier works.  His timetable must have been a busy one as, apart from his work and his literary pursuits, he was also taking a keen interest in the local ladies.  By 1785 his mother’s maid was pregnant and in March the following year an old flame by the name of Jean Armour had twins by him.  Later in 1786 Mary Campbell died of typhus whilst carrying his child.

The pattern continues and one can only assume that Burns’ romantic poetry was remarkably effective.  By 1788 he was back with Jean and they married that year.  Despite his tangled love life he had written a book (Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect) and was intending to emigrate to Jamaica on the proceeds but the work’s success convinced him to stay and he was on the road to fame.  Literary fame notwithstanding, he also took employment as a customs official and moved to Dumfries.

His life was a busy one to say the least and his poor health eventually took its toll and he died on 21st July 1796.  He was just 37 but had already created a huge volume of work, poems and songs, which endure to this day.  He was buried in St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries where his last resting place is marked by the Burns Mausoleum.  Jean Armour is also buried in the same tomb.

There is much more I could tell you about Burns but I will leave you to do a bit of work for yourself if you are interested –why not find out why he became “The people’s poet” in Russia, it’s true!

So all of us at GH Consultants would like to wish all of our Scottish friends and clients a very enjoyable Burns Night – I am sure you will not overdo it with the whisky and haggis, it’s not as if Burns would have approved of excess…….

Technology and how we use it

September 23rd, 2010 by Chris

I was planning a route to a court hearing the other day and suddenly realised how easy my life was with the internet on call 24/7 to allow me to compare different forms of travel, check times and costs, as well as booking train tickets and seats if necessary.

It made me think how different it was not so long ago.  When I was younger and before I started my firm, Herdens, which subsequently merged with my parents business, Geoden Agency, I can remember my Father planning routes to interviews and locus sites all around the country, just using a map and his general knowledge.

I used to accompany him on some of these trips and can remember what an exciting day it was when he got an analogue mobile phone, so that we were able to keep everyone updated with our current location and expected arrival time.  Now I naturally carry a mobile phone with me all the time, but I also often carry a laptop equipped with mobile broadband so that I can access the internet and keep up with my e-mails wherever I might be.

With my laptop, I am able to call on people to take statements and type it up in front of them and allow them to proof read it there and then.  This is compared with the old system of handwritten statements where the handwriting had to be deciphered by the interviewee, before the statement was typed up in the office and carried back and forth by post.  Where telephone statements are taken the draft can be e-mailed to the relevant person, allowing them to make on screen corrections instead of untidy handwritten corrections, before returning the pristine signed copy.

Locus reports are a whole different ball game now as well.  Previously they were all taken with either a point and shoot or SLR camera using film.  Settings had to be adjusted to take into account light levels and you were never sure of the outcome until the film was processed which could take some time and would increase our charges.  Now all locus reports are carried out using a digital camera where the images can be previewed before leaving the site to ensure that all angles and relevant points have been covered.

Other things have also moved on significantly.  Although we still receive many of our instructions by post, we also receive many by e-mail.  Any paper files are scanned on to our central server along with all outgoing letters etc.  Staff members can then access the server from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection, allowing them to promptly deal with queries and check up on relevant information.

Our desire to move with the times in terms of technology will not be stopping any time soon, as we truly believe that it brings efficiencies to us and benefits to our clients, not the least us being able to keep our fees to a reasonable level.

We are currently trialling a small body worn camera which amongst other things will allow us to record process serves for our own protection and to avoid any attempts to deny receipt of the papers.  In the near future I am looking at upgrading my current mobile phone to a new generation smart phone which will allow me to access many features of my laptop from my pocket.  We are also investigating the possibility of using iPad’s or similar as a lightweight way of carrying electronic files which would save the need to print files out where they were originally received electronically.

The other thing worth adding is that where we do not have the technology to hand, we probably know someone who does.  Through other professional private investigators and technology professionals, we have access to items such as covert trackers, covert cameras, some with remote viewing and other “James Bond” type devices.

was planning a route to a court hearing the other day and suddenly realised how easy my life was with the internet on call 24/7 to allow me to compare different forms of travel, check times and costs, as well as booking train tickets and seats if necessary.

 

It made me think how different it was not so long ago. When I was younger and before I started my firm, Herdens, which subsequently merged with my parents business, Geoden Agency, I can remember my father planning routes to interviews and locus sites all around the country, just using a map and his general knowledge.

 

I used to accompany him on some of these trips and can remember what an exciting day it was when he got an analogue mobile phone, so that we were able to keep everyone updated with our current location and expected arrival time. Now I naturally carry a mobile phone with me all the time, but I also often carry a laptop equipped with mobile broadband so that I can access the internet and keep up with my e-mails wherever I might be.

 

With my laptop, I am able to call on people to take statements and type it up in front of them and allow them to proof read it there and then. This is compared with the old system of handwritten statements where the handwriting had to be deciphered by the interviewee, before the statement was typed up in the office and carried back and forth by post. Where telephone statements are taken the draft can be e-mailed to the relevant person, allowing them to make on screen corrections instead of untidy handwritten corrections, before returning the pristine signed copy.

 

Locus reports are a whole different ball game now as well. Previously they were all taken with either a point and shoot or SLR camera using film. Settings had to be adjusted to take into account light levels and you were never sure of the outcome until the film was processed which could take some time and would increase our charges. Now all locus reports are carried out using a digital camera where the images can be previewed before leaving the site to ensure that all angles and relevant points have been covered.

 

Other things have also moved on significantly. Although we still receive many of our instructions by post, we also receive many by e-mail. Any paper files are scanned on to our central server along with all outgoing letters etc. Staff members can then access the server from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection, allowing them to promptly deal with queries and check up on relevant information.

 

Our desire to move with the times in terms of technology will not be stopping any time soon, as we truly believe that it brings efficiencies to us and benefits to our clients, not the least us being able to keep our fees to a reasonable level.

 

We are currently trialling a small body worn camera which amongst other things will allow us to record process serves for our own protection and to avoid any attempts to deny receipt of the papers. In the near future I am lookin

I was planning a route to a court hearing the other day and suddenly realised how easy my life was with the internet on call 24/7 to allow me to compare different forms of travel, check times and costs, as well as booking train tickets and seats if necessary.

It made me think how different it was not so long ago.  When I was younger and before I started my firm, Herdens, which subsequently merged with my parents business, Geoden Agency, I can remember my father planning routes to interviews and locus sites all around the country, just using a map and his general knowledge.

I used to accompany him on some of these trips and can remember what an exciting day it was when he got an analogue mobile phone, so that we were able to keep everyone updated with our current location and expected arrival time.  Now I naturally carry a mobile phone with me all the time, but I also often carry a laptop equipped with mobile broadband so that I can access the internet and keep up with my e-mails wherever I might be.

With my laptop, I am able to call on people to take statements and type it up in front of them and allow them to proof read it there and then.  This is compared with the old system of handwritten statements where the handwriting had to be deciphered by the interviewee, before the statement was typed up in the office and carried back and forth by post.  Where telephone statements are taken the draft can be e-mailed to the relevant person, allowing them to make on screen corrections instead of untidy handwritten corrections, before returning the pristine signed copy.

Locus reports are a whole different ball game now as well.  Previously they were all taken with either a point and shoot or SLR camera using film.  Settings had to be adjusted to take into account light levels and you were never sure of the outcome until the film was processed which could take some time and would increase our charges.  Now all locus reports are carried out using a digital camera where the images can be previewed before leaving the site to ensure that all angles and relevant points have been covered.

Other things have also moved on significantly.  Although we still receive many of our instructions by post, we also receive many by e-mail.  Any paper files are scanned on to our central server along with all outgoing letters etc.  Staff members can then access the server from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection, allowing them to promptly deal with queries and check up on relevant information.

Our desire to move with the times in terms of technology will not be stopping any time soon, as we truly believe that it brings efficiencies to us and benefits to our clients, not the least us being able to keep our fees to a reasonable level.

We are currently trialling a small body worn camera which amongst other things will allow us to record process serves for our own protection and to avoid any attempts to deny receipt of the papers.  In the near future I am looking at upgrading my current mobile phone to a new generation smart phone which will allow me to access many features of my laptop from my pocket.  We are also investigating the possibility of using iPad’s or similar as a lightweight way of carrying electronic files which would save the need to print files out where they were originally received electronically.

The other thing worth adding is that where we do not have the technology to hand, we probably know someone who does.  Through other professional private investigators and technology professionals, we have access to items such as covert trackers, covert cameras, some with remote viewing and other “James Bond” type devices.

g at upgrading my current mobile phone to a new generation smart phone which will allow me to access many features of my laptop from my pocket. We are also investigating the possibility of using iPad’s or similar as a lightweight way of carrying electronic files which would save the need to print files out where they were originally received electronically.

 

The other thing worth adding is that where we do not have the technology to hand, we probably know someone who does. Through other professional private investigators and technology professionals, we have access to items such as covert trackers, covert cameras, some with remote viewing and other “James Bond” type devices.

Out and About – Mercedes Benz World @ Brooklands

August 12th, 2010 by Chris

Although I can’t profess to being a “car nut”, I do appreciate nice cars and have developed a very good knowledge of different cars through carrying out motor claims investigations and credit hire claim investigations.

Recently when myself and my partner had a unusual free weekend, we decided that we would take a trip to Mercedes Benz World at the old Brooklands Circuit, not too far from our Berkshire office.

We arrived just in time to watch a display from the AMG saloons and estates on the skid pan and track which was set out with fantastic views from the ground and also from upper levels of the main building.

Mercedes AMG Display Team at Mercedes Benz World

We then continued round to inspect some of the other displays which included some audio visual exhibits and historic vehicles, but was mostly just the current range of Mercedes vehicles.

A Mercedes SCL600 Concept Car at Mercedes Benz World

We took the chance to sit in as many as possible and my partner experiment with the features and settings whilst I took mental notes for future reference.  Hopefully I won’t ever have to deal with a motor insurance claim investigation relating to damage caused to someone’s pride and joy Mercedes, especially with some models worth £150,000 upwards.

McLaren Mercedes SLR at Mercedes Benz World

We are looking forward to returning some time in future to take one of the driving experiences which range from driving one of the AMG models to off road driving.  We might also take one of the younger family members for a Kid’s driving experience.

All in all it was a very enjoyable visit, especially since there was no entry charge.

The customer is always right

July 29th, 2010 by Geoff

There’s an old saying in business that the customer is always right.  You can see why it was coined, upset your customer, say goodbye to business, the logic seems undeniable.  However, as legal agents, are we able to be that flexible?  There’s no real problem when Mrs Gruttock insists on surrounding her lawn with daffodils when the gardener thinks shrubs will be more effective.  However, when we are asked to undertake tasks we have a responsibility to the courts as well as to our clients so it is a bit different.

Over the years we have been asked to check evidence submitted to the courts by our client’s opponents – usually sketch plans and photographs.  I’ve no doubt that there are occasions when someone on the “other side” queries our work and that is fine with me as we only submit evidence that is honest regardless of whether it suits one party more than the other.  Basically it is a “What we see is what you get” situation.

Sadly there are instances where what we are shown from other sources is definitely not what you would see at the site.  The usual discrepancies relate to distance which can be crucial where speed and visibility are factors in the case.  I’ve seen distances “shortened” by the use of a telephoto lens on the camera and then underestimated on the sketch plan.  It is only a sketch plan after all so nobody should expect 100% accuracy but a 50% discrepancy (seen a few years back) is stretching things too far.  Quite recently I realised that a plan showed a line of vision that did not exist.  I had reason to talk to the person who had prepared the plan (not one of our agents I would stress) and was told “That’s what my clients wanted”.  I suggested that doctoring a plan to mislead was hardly honest and to do it and sign the declaration on the paperwork was asking for trouble.  I could cite many more examples but will not bore you with them.

We take the view that we should tell our client exactly what is at an accident scene.  Some may suggest that anything unhelpful should not be conveyed to the client but if we don’t tell them the other side certainly will.  Worse still if that damaging information comes to light in the course of a court hearing where the judge might gain the impression that evidence had been suppressed.  If a lawyer is on a conditional or fixed fee case he/she wants to run a good solid case so weaknesses need to be exposed sooner rather than later – if the litigant is proven to be a liar in court it is not going to reflect well on the team that has been supporting that individual.  Costs allocation can be an effective form of “punishment” as we all know.

So, is the customer always right in any situation?  Claims handlers pay us to report to them and we endeavour to do so as accurately as possible – why pay for information and then ignore it?  At the end of the day we are trying to help our clients make an informed decision and if that is to tell a litigant his case is flawed or recommend to an insurer that a claim should be paid then so be it.  I am pleased to say that, fortunately, most of our investigations support our clients and then we are all happy!

Staged Accidents

July 15th, 2010 by Chris

Driving along the dual carriageway on your way home from work, you’re travelling at a reasonable speed, keeping your distance from the vehicle in front and following a route you have done so many times before, but tonight is going to be different, tonight you are going to be involved in a staged accident.

A car overtakes you and pulls in front of you, instead of speeding up and pulling away however, they start to gradually slow.  Becoming frustrated you look in your mirror for an opportunity to pull out and overtake, but by now other vehicles are passing you.

As you approach a slip road to the left one of the overtaking vehicles passes you and the car in front before cutting across their path very sharply to take the exit.  The car in front brakes hard, you brake too but there is nothing you can do and you can’t avoid rear ending the vehicle in front.  You have probably just been involved in a staged accident, but did you realise this?

How about another situation where you are waiting to join a roundabout?  Visibility is good and when the vehicle in front moves off you see that you should have no problem entering the roundabout too.  Just before you cross the give way lines you make a final check to the right and everything is still clear, you look back in the direction you are heading and in horror realise that the car in front has stopped dead for no apparent reason.  You brake, but are far too close to avoid a collision.  The other driver quickly gets out and says aggressively to you “Didn’t you see the motorcycle that came round the roundabout very quickly?”  Well did you?  Of course you didn’t, because they didn’t exist and once again you have been involved in a staged accident.

In both of these cases it would appear that you are totally to blame as you simply cannot go round driving into the back of other cars in most circumstances.  Your insurers will receive a claim for the damage to the other vehicle, a claim for personal injury to the other driver and probably passengers (some of whom might not have even been in the vehicle), along with a claim for hiring a replacement vehicle.  In total if the claim is successful this will net the fraudsters many thousands of pounds, but will your insurer realise what has happened?

Insurers are generally very alert to fraudulent and staged accidents and will frequently instruct a firm of experienced motor accident investigators like Geoden Agency to carry out staged accident investigations to try and uncover the truth, potentially allowing a claim to be rejected and possibly even leading to criminal proceedings against the gang of fraudsters.

If you think you have been involved in a staged accident and your insurers don’t seem to be taking notice of your concerns, then Geoden Agency might be able to assist you.  There is some motor claims advice on the Geoden Agency website and they will be happy to carry out further investigations in the hope of producing evidence which can be provided to your insurers to assist your case.

Out and About – The Stanley Clock, South Norwood

May 13th, 2010 by Geoff

Not so long ago we had instructions to trace a witness in Holmesdale Road, South London.  Nothing unusual in that, we do plenty of work tracing various people and this one just involved a trip up to Norwood Junction railway station so a relatively simple journey from our Haywards Heath, Sussex office.

Upon arrival at the station I had to exit into the imaginatively named “Station Road” (those Victorian street planners did not exactly overstretch themselves although I guess “it does what is says on the packet”).  Just before one reaches Selhurst Road you see something a bit out of the ordinary, a small cast-iron clock tower standing in the roadway.  Despite its relatively modest size it is quite a splendid structure much resembling a younger relative of the clock tower on the Houses of Parliament commonly known as Big Ben.

Stanley Clocktower, South Norwood

I usually carry a camera for my locus shots so I took a picture out of curiosity and decided to find out a little more about this quaint structure.  Needless to say, I turned to the internet and found that the clock was a commemoration of the Golden Wedding of William and Eliza Stanley and constructed in 1907.  Now the name Stanley might ring a bell with those DIYers out there as William was an engineer, mainly self-taught, and many of the tools we now use bear his company’s name.  His abilities and skills were many and varied and he even forecast that in the future we would travel by train under the Channel and use cards instead of money.

William was a great local philanthropist providing the nearby Stanley Halls and, a few years later, the Stanley Technical School.  Sadly the halls, which are in local authority hands, have suffered from vandalism and are no longer as impressive as they once were.  The clock however, which was paid for by public subscription, is in fine condition and a fitting tribute to a man ahead of his times – William Ford Robinson Stanley 1829-1909.

Perhaps that moment of apparently idle curiosity in a South London street was not wasted after all.

Credit Hire – A necessary evil or just evil?

April 29th, 2010 by Chris

Frequently after a motor accident there is one driver who is completely blameless and another who must accept responsibility for the accident they have caused and as such according to the law of the land, must also compensate the other driver for the losses they incur.  This compensation is usually handled by the at fault driver’s insurance company.

One of the big areas of claim now relates to the hire of a replacement vehicle while the non fault driver’s car is off the road being repaired or while they await receipt of the total loss cheque for their vehicle.

The non fault driver will frequently be introduced to a credit hire firm by their insurer, broker or body shop.  That firm will usually tell them that they can hire an equivalent car to their own for as long as they need at no cost to themselves as all the charges will be reclaimed from the at fault driver’s insurance.

A credit hire firm however is not a usual car hire company.  As the name suggests, their vehicles are hired out and the charges are on a credit basis allowing them to be recovered from the at fault driver’s insurance before payment is required.  It is generally accepted that the cost of anything purchased using credit rather than cash is higher and this is usually the case with credit hire vehicles.

The use of credit hire means that everyday, insurers are receiving claims for credit car hire totalling many thousands of pounds which are much higher than if the vehicles had been hired on a cash or spot hire basis.

There is case law that basically states that an innocent driver is only allowed to recover the spot hire rates unless they can prove that they had no alternative other than to approach a more expensive credit hire company.  This is where credit hire comes into its own and can provide a valuable, if not expensive, service to innocent drivers.

Vehicle repairs can take some time, which can mean that the cost of hiring alternative transport, even from a cheaper spot hire firm, could be prohibitive to many people.  The legal term for this is that the hirer is impecunious.  This leaves them with no option, but to resort to credit hire or do without a vehicle which might be essential for their daily life.

Credit hire firms also generally have a more generous acceptance criteria than standard hire firms, which means they can often hire to young / older drivers or convicted drivers which other hire firms would not be able to accommodate.  Again these drivers have no option but to resort to credit hire or forgo a vehicle whilst theirs is off the road.

Geoden Agency can assist credit hire firms in showing that their client had no option but resort to the use of credit hire through their claimant credit hire investigation services.  These include taking a statement from the Claimant setting out their financial position or surveying the spot hire market to show lack of available alternatives to the Claimant.

Geoden Agency can also help motor insurers and defendant solicitors when faced with a credit hire claim.  Their defendant credit hire claims investigations include services such as spot hire rates investigations and status reports on claimants to minimise the risk of an impecuniosity defence.