The distasteful art of promotion06 October 2009
Thompsons, as any law firm, likes to publicise our successful cases.
Of course we do this as a marketing tool but (we would say this wouldn’t we) they can also highlight workplace health and safety issues and our trade union clients welcome that.
Interest in our cases from local, regional and national media and from the trade press is what we are aiming for. Increasingly though, other law firms and claims management firms have been making use of our press releases on their own websites.
It’s galling when a so-called rival law firm, or any other law firm, posts a Thompsons press release in its news section. Usually they remove our name and (Monty Pythonesque) insert their own in virtual crayon. Occasionally some of our solicitors have been stunned to see that their quotes have remained (“I wasn’t working for that firm last time I checked,” said one).
We’ve considered making “passing off” complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It is clear that these law firms’ intention is to give the impression that our cases are theirs. Putting them on their website might improve their ranking when a potential client Googles for a personal injury solicitor.
One big PI firm that regularly used our releases only stopped when we complained about their using an “appeal for witnesses” from one of our asbestos cases. They had simply removed our name and the contact number and replaced it with theirs. To whom, we asked, did they intend referring any witnesses who came forward?
Hugely ironic it may be but rather distasteful is the appearance of our cases on insurance company websites.
Most recently the Aviva Risk Management Solutions website has started reporting our cases.
First, injuries sustained by a care worker caused by an old bath seat provided Aviva with the “opportunity” to add the lines: “The Aviva Risk Management Solutions Hardfacts document on Conducting Risk Assessments notes that any situation, machine or substance that could cause injury should be assessed and appropriate action taken to safeguard employees” and that “the guidance adds that risk assessments can include an estimate of how likely an injury is to occur due to a given hazard”.
Then a case of a 48-year old mesothelioma sufferer provided Aviva Risk Management Solutions with the chance to promote their wares.
Seizing on our client’s own comment that “another generation of people are still being unwittingly exposed to asbestos in schools and offices" Aviva added a plug for its in-company course on how to manage the risks posed by asbestos.
Most recently Aviva, like the law firm, published our appeal for witnesses in a fatal asbestos claim, removing our contact details but adding a link to their asbestos risk management solutions site.
Don’t get me wrong, we welcome insurance industry initiatives to educate their clients in improving workplace health and safety.
Indeed we have long said that insurers should reduce premiums for those employers who demonstrate their commitment to workplace health and safety (little evidence of that still).
And perhaps in the first asbestos case Aviva Risk Solutions had a sense that it was somehow their property, since Norwich Union was the defendant insurer in the case.
But there is something nevertheless disturbing about the insurance industry using the direct experiences of injured, terminally ill and deceased people to market their products.
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