In 2019, National Highways, then Highways England, reported that, with regard to recovery of repair costs following damage to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) by Third Party drivers, they were recovering just £1 in every £5. Could this have anything to do with the fact that their contractors were effectively writing their own work orders, and then signing their own cheques?
Seemingly to address the problem of their own making, National Highways appointed Kier Highways lawyers*, Shakespeare Martineau (Corclaim), to achieve a 90% recovery. The law firm has a favoured position, of being appointed to act on behalf of both National Highways, and Kier Highways.
How do they avoid a conflict of interest from occurring? They seek to recover claims not upon a basis of what Kier have actually spent on carrying out repairs, but upon a mythical ‘Kier schedule of rates’ which, in their view, reflects the reasonable costs of repair. Trebles all around, then!
Before landing this lucrative deal, Shakespeare Martineau wryly observed:
There is a moral issue here too as clearly adding costs into the recovery process could cause insurance costs to escalate and eventually all users of commercial vehicle insurance would end up paying for this through higher premiums. However, others will take the view that while the commercial opportunity exists they would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
This brutal observation and honest post* has since been removed from their website, possibly because it reflects the fact that they have succumbed to exploit a commercial opportunity by bagging instructions from all those parties involved in the highway repair process. The escape of factual information is therefore highly controlled; when FOIA applications, made to National Highways to disclose factual information regarding actual costs incurred in carrying out motorway repairs, are obstructed by the Authority, guess who seeks to join Tribunal proceedings as an interested party, none other than Kier Highways!!!
Expect to be taken advantage of!