A Brexit Negotiation - a tale of former times
Many years ago I was told a rather good tale about the frustrations of a negotiation that took place (allegedly) between an insurer and a solicitor instructed by a trade union to represent one of its members who had been hurt in an accident at work. The story translates rather nicely to the modern day if you want to transpose the names below to M Barnier / Mrs May or perhaps to Mrs May / Mr Rees-Mogg. It is apparent that the stresses and strains of the positional posturing are creating fissures in political parties and within society. There is perhaps an evolving mood that we should find a different and better way (with mediation of course amongst the options). However, to the story itself.....
The insurer’s Claims Inspector was a Mr Knight ( for he was of the Iron Trades) and the solicitor was called Brian ( though it could have been Robin - my memory fades). Correspondence (it is an old tale) had been sent to Brian and three settlement offers had been made. Each had been rejected but no counter-offer had been forthcoming. The insurers were growing a little frustrated but Mr Knight made not infrequent visits to Brian’s firm and reported to his colleagues that, on occasions, they would speak to him. The file was passed to him and an appointment was duly made to discuss this long standing matter in early December.
After waiting in Brian’s reception area for 25 minutes Mr Knight was led in to meet Brian who was sitting behind a large desk, piled high with paper and a cup of tea - hospitality that was not offered to his guest. Mr Knight explained that he had come along to discuss the matter, that the insurer was keen to settle, that it had made three offers none of which had been accepted. He went on to explain that he had a negotiating authority but needed to know the plaintiff’s position.
Brian explained that on receipt of the first offer he had sought his client’s instructions but had advised that the figure was ‘Not enough’. The revised offer similarly had been ‘Not enough’ and so too the final offer:’Not enough’. He explained that the plaintiff’s position was quite clear.
Mr Knight enquired whether perhaps an additional £500 would settle the matter (as I have said it was a long time ago) and on being told that this also was not enough explained that he would offer an additional £1,000 + costs’ to conclude’. Again he was told this was not enough.
Being reluctant to go back to his colleagues and having to admit failure he summoned one last trick from the Claims Inspectors rather dusty claims handling guide. ‘Brian’ he suggested ‘I suggest that we each write on the palm of our hand our best offer. If we are within £500 of each other we will split the difference and the matter will be settled. Insurers will be happy and your client will have some money in his pocket by Christmas. Agreed?’ And it was. Brian picked up a biro from his desk and wrote on the palm of his hand. Mr Knight reached in to his brief case for the expensive pen that he had picked up at Irwin Mitchell and wrote on the palm of his hand. Confident that his very generous offer must be at least within £500 of what Brian would have written he unfurled his left hand to reveal the figure. ‘Your turn Brian.’ Brian too then held up his hand, slowly opened his fingers to reveal to his opponent his offer: ‘Not enough’.