Thursday, 30 May 2013

Are you worried about claiming against your employer for an accident at work?

Guest Postemployee firedSome people feel uneasy about claiming for an accident at work. But, if you are injured as a result of negligence by your employer, it’s important to be aware of the facts.

Suffering an injury is traumatic enough, but coupled with the worry of the financial implications around loss of earnings and possible costs for medical treatment, an accident at work can be very stressful.

Taking action after experiencing an accident at work often worries people as they think it will impact on their job security, however, your employer has a duty of care toward you under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. This means that they have a legal obligation which requires them to adhere to standards of care while you’re at work.

If you’re going to claim, evidence is key. Your employer should have an accident book to record anything that’s happened and seeking medical advice after your accident - something you’re entitled to do even if it’s not a severe injury - will mean it’s officially recorded. You can also register the accident as an industrial injury with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

If the cause of your injury was the fault of another employee, your employer is still responsible. Vicarious liability means that your employer is accountable for the actions of its employees, so there is no need to worry that you’re not eligible to make a claim in these circumstances.

Another concern you may have is putting your company out of pocket. Your employer will have liability insurance and if you claim against it, it’s dealt with by its insurance company. This means that the money doesn’t directly come from your employer; it’s the insurer that pays any compensation.

Accidents at work should be taken seriously. Some injuries can result in loss of life. If you don’t take any action, then employers could continue to be negligent to you and others in your workplace.

Finally, it’s understandable that you may be worried about being dismissed for making a claim against your employer. While there is no guarantee that you won’t be, it’s worth remembering that it is illegal for your employer to discharge you for making a claim for an accident at work.

Being armed with the facts will hopefully take some of the worry out of making a claim against your employer. If you’ve suffered an accident at work, taking legal advice is recommended. When claiming for accident at work be sure to use a solicitor that specialises in personal injury and has a good success rate of winning compensation on behalf of their clients.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Rise of Medical Negligence Claims

Guest Postmedical negligence caseMaking a claim for compensation is not always based on securing what we feel we’re owed. Being injured in an accident at work or a road traffic accident can stop you from doing your job and lead to a loss of earnings, which compensation can help to cover. Furthermore, serious injuries can dramatically affect your life, requiring you to make modifications to your home and result in large bills for on-going health care.

We are fortunate enough to live in a culture where, if we are injured as a result of someone else’s recklessness or incompetence, we are able to obtain financial compensation.

Unfortunately, we also live in a society in which the institutions we rely on to keep us healthy and help us when we are injured, are actually often responsible for damage to our personal health and wellbeing.

Reports of under-staffed hospitals and surgeries ran by pressured medical staff continue to dominate news headlines, as does the threat this poses to the wellbeing of patients and incidents of people dying as a result of medical malpractice. Poor management and ineffective measures such as the NHS 111 Helpline have continued to put those most at risk in danger.

Writing for The Daily Mail, Sophie Borland highlights the dangers of the nation’s health service, including the 111 Helpline, stating: ”At least three patients may have died because of failings in the helpline. As well as the deaths, a further nineteen cases involving poor care are being investigated.“

Hospitals have become dangerous places where, unfortunately, medical staff are increasingly failing in their duty of care towards their patients. A BBC investigation revealed that between 2009 and 2012, more than 750 NHS patients suffered preventable mistakes, including instances where patients had the wrong limb amputated.

With standards of care continuing to fall and incidents of patient’s sustaining serious injuries and even dying, legal action against care providers is becoming as commonplace as claims for accidents at work and in public places.

In spite of the increasing number of incidents of medical negligence which are occurring in the UK, legislation has been introduced that has resulted in massive reductions to the public funding available for civil cases involving medical negligence. As of April 1st 2013, legal aid is only available for individuals who have suffered a brain injury at or around the time of their birth, meaning funding is unavailable for anyone who has been the victim of medical negligence.

For more information about relevant legislation, including the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2012, click here.

What can be seen from these facts are that victims of medical negligence are reliant of the services of personal injury solicitors who have experience of medical malpractice claims and are able to offer the necessary support and advice. Firms such as Beecham Peacock offer assistance in pursuing medical negligence compensation as part of their services, highlighting the increasing necessity for people to seek legal advice in instances of medical malpractice.

With the withdrawal of funding, it appears that the government has initiated a war between a failing health service and individuals who are forced to seek legal advice to pursue compensation for the harm they have come to.

Though it is clear that the nation’s health service is in need of major improvement, in the way it is managed and the care that it exercises over patient’s wellbeing, with no solution to the failings of the health service in sight, it can be predicted that medical negligence claims will continue to be frequent.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Lawyers and the standing desk


standing deskAs the working population of the western world degenerates into a sedentary army of obese and disease-ridden information workers, it’s only a matter of time before this ticking time bomb goes off.

While I would never do the legal profession the disservice of referring to a lawyer as an information worker, there’s no denying that lawyers work long hours at their desks.  The negative health impact of being chained to a desk for well over 40 (50, 60?) hours a week should be fairly obvious.

In recent months, I’ve found myself getting increasingly restless sat at my desk and there’s only so much shifting around in your chair you can do to try and stave off the inevitable circulatory and posture problems. Plus, you can’t take repeated toilet or coffee breaks without attracting unwanted attention and becoming the subject of  unsavoury office gossip.

So, maybe standing at your desk is the answer.

I was interested to discover that during the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld insisted on a standing desk.

donald rumsfeld standing desk

I know.  Unsettling isn’t it? Maybe he’s not such a great role model but that doesn’t mean the concept of a standing desk is a non-starter.

To many, the idea of standing at your desk all day might sound horrifying but I think the posture and health benefits are worth making the effort for.  I guess the ideal solution would be desk that can transform between sitting and standing modes.

Paul Thurrott and co were discussing the value of standing desk on Windows Weekly a few weeks ago. Apparently, Paul’s buddy, Rafael, had recently bought a desk which could switch between modes at the touch of a button.  

That sounds like the kind of desk I’d like at work. 

Do you think the HR department would order me one?  Be right back

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Setting an Example: Fraud Officer Convicted of Fraud

Guest Postfraud offenceFormer head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Richard Alderman, has had a slap on the wrist for issuing £1m of unauthorised severance payments to his fellow workers, without evidence of the proper approval. He has subsequently apologised to parliament in a letter last week for not contacting the Treasury or Cabinet Office before going ahead with this hand-out.

His reign as the leading figure for anti-fraud and anti-corruption lasted for six years. After aggressively arguing that he did nothing wrong before the committee, he has since retracted his comments and issued a wholehearted apology.

Under questioning, he admitted that he had no documented proof that the payments had been approved by officials and that there was no evidence that he had written to the correct civil servants. He has since confessed that his behaviour was unprofessional and fell short of what was expected of someone in his position.

Argumentative Beginnings
Alderman has also been accused of acting irresponsibly by paying his chief executive, Phillippa Williamson, to work from her home in the Lake District for two days a week. Every year, the taxpayer paid £27,600 for Williamson’s travel and hotel costs in London.

Williamson left the department with £464,905, Chris Bailes (chief operating officer) with £473,167, and Ian McCall (head of IT) with £49,885. The Cabinet Office and the National Audit Office gave evidence that Alderman didn’t get permission to issue these payments. The committee’s chair, Margaret Hodge, accused Alderman of making these extraordinary payments because the individuals in question were ‘old friends.’

Alderman has issued a written apology for failing to apologise for his behaviour at the hearing. He claimed that the Treasury was aware of all his plans to make three executives redundant, with severance packages. The successor to his position, David Green, has claimed that this report is incorrect and has commissioned professional money laundering lawyers to look into these payments.

Alderman’s Poor Track Record
Property tycoons the Tchenguiz brothers are suing the SFO after a false investigation severely damaged their business prospects. They’re filing a £300m damages claim for SFO’s false step. And that’s not all; Alderman also closed down the probes which were examining fraudster, Bernie Madoff. Furthermore, he declined to examine the Libor-rigging taking place in UK banks, causing further business economic difficultly.

Now that the committee have received a letter of apology, they plan to see if they can reclaim some of the large payments made. Tory member, Stewart Jackson, accused Alderman of handling public money badly. Alderman’s only defence was that Williamson was a talented civil servant.

This obviously raises concerns for a public that is already struggling with a trust complex, when it comes to those in powerful positions. The banking crisis shook the faith the UK had in its financial sector. It’s hoped that by dealing effectively with public services, Great British citizens can once more trust in those pulling the strings. Jackson has called these events a ‘victory’ for the select committee.

Fighting a Speeding Fine? Top Tips to Help

Guest Post speeding law

Most drivers have received a speeding ticket in their lifetime, whether that’s because they intentionally broke the law or because they obliviously rolled into a 30 zone at 40mph.

Whatever the reason, you don’t have to take your speeding ticket lying down. There are ways and means of getting off the hook, and if you’re crafty enough, you might just escape scot-free. Here are a few approaches to try out.

Have The Right Attitude
When you’re pulled over by a police officer, your first step should be to be as unthreatening and as likeable as possible. Get out the big, doe eyes. Turn your car off and switch the interior lights on. Place your hands on the steering wheel and remove any sunglasses or hats. Don’t get out of the car.

Try to take the tension out of the situation. Police officers have been in a variety of dangerous situations, so make sure they see you as a reasonable citizen who won’t do anything threatening.

Be polite. If you can manage it, address them as ‘officer’ or ‘sir/ma’am’ – police officers are often proud souls, so do your best to flatter their self-importance.

Don’t start pleading until the basics have been covered. Ask before you move your hands from the steering wheel. Once the officer has your information, start talking.

If you have clearly broken the law, admit you were in the wrong and say that the officer was entirely right to pull you over. Make your excuses, but admit you realise you shouldn’t have travelled at that speed. Ask to see the reading meter, to check just how bad you were breaking the law (in their eyes), but bear in mind they may not let you.

Once you’ve developed a rapport with the officer, show that you are extremely remorseful and that you’ve learned your lesson. Try to get mercy, but whatever you do, don’t get angry. You can beg as much as your dignity will allow you but don’t grovel. You want the officer to barely remember you and leave with a positive impression. Nevertheless, the law has touch sentences in place to deter reckless drivers.

You Still Receive A Ticket
Try to get in contact with the officer to talk about the speeding ticket. You’re more likely to do well out of this if you were only speeding slightly. Tell them a legitimate and believable story – this may be your actual reason marginally embellished. You need a convincing reason however, to get the officer on-side.

If you’ve had no prior convictions, you can protest that this is your first speeding offence and that it was certainly a one-off that you don’t intend to repeat. If the officer identifies with you, he or she may show you mercy.

The officer has full authority to let you off your ticket, so always remember how important he or she is. This officer is your ticket to freedom. You have every right to talk to the officer.

Follow-Up Letter
Follow up your call with a letter, thanking the officer for his or her work and praising them for their handling of the case. You can work on them a bit here too, but this is really the last resort before heading to court.

Produced on behalf of speeding solicitors who are helping provide insightful and informative advice on a range of motoring incidents. Visit their specific speeding page for further information.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Work email culture–there’s always tomorrow

legal email

From Law Donut 17/05/13:

Accessing work-related emails is no longer just confined to the working day. According to a new report, small business employees are checking their work emails at all hours of day and night – even at social occasions that include weddings, school events and family get-togethers.

Excuse me?  What’s new about this?  Hasn’t this been a widespread problem for several years now?

The survey, conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GFI Software, polled 500 employees in small business workplaces across the UK. It found that technology has blurred the boundaries between home and work. Three quarters of respondents said they check their work email at the weekend, 44% check work email after 11pm and 54% keep on top of work email on holiday.

I’ve long regarded email at work as being both a symptom and a cause of the growing OCD epidemic. No, seriously. 

There was a time that I would regularly check my work emails outside of the working day. Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve found a little work-life demarcation has been in order and have made a conscious effort to only check work emails during working hours. It can be tough at first to break old (unhealthy) habits but it’s well worth sticking with.  I also removed my work mail accounts from my smartphone and, funnily enough, my cold sweats and panic attacks immediately subsided.  ;-)  Sometimes life’s too short to tolerate these things.  Remember: that vitally important email will still be safely in your inbox on Monday morning. 
Who said there’s no such thing as 9 – 5 legal practice any more?  Be right back

The report also found that email is used at the office more than any other form of communication:

  • 48.8% of respondents use email for work more than any other communications format
  • 25% still prefer face-to-face meetings
  • 23.6% prefer to pick up the phone

Don’t get me started: there’s nothing more disruptive than a telephone call.

Email gets a quick response from the majority of respondents – with 75% saying they typically reply to emails within one hour during work hours and almost a third replying within 15 minutes.

And for the record, anybody who sends an email and then follows it up with a phone call within a matter of minutes is blatantly asking for a smack in the mouth!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Studying for a law exam - a cry for help

law students studyingIt’s been a while since I did a mailbag feature, so here’s to turning that around. ;-)

The following email plopped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago from a law student panicked by the prospect of open book exams:

Just found your law blog after having a complete mare over open book exams.
I appreciate this is a completely cheeky and out of the blue question,
but I don't suppose you happen to have those old company law notes you
mention in your revision entry do you?! Completely terrified about it,
have no idea what I'm doing or how to answer question from the second
semester, and generally worried I'm not going to get a 2:1 and thereby
miss my TC offer!

Totally understand you telling me to piss off, but thanks for the
hints and tips anyway :)

Jodie G

For those wondering, my “revision entry” was this post back in 2009.

I stand by the techniques I propounded there – certainly for closed book exams, anyway – and there isn’t really much I can add.

Open book exams are a bit of a different animal. Quite obviously, they call for a slightly different focus with less of the course material committed to memory and more focus on meticulous organisation and knowledge of your permitted materials. But that’s not to say you don’t need to be able to recall a large proportion of the content without being reliant on your books.

Your permitted materials are an aide memoire – not a memory replacement.

Jodie’s email didn’t really inspire me to respond (nope, not even to tell her to piss off). Amongst other things, the experience of a law degree is about trying different study methods to see what works for you, learning from your mistakes and emerging the other side richer for the experience.

As I said to a student colleague recently, “I don’t want to rob you of the learning experience”. I think the subtext there is blatantly clear.

For what it’s worth, I did have the revision notes of which I spoke in the post but they were a) tailored for my course and not Jodie’s, b) the fruit of my exam-time labours (why should I share them) and c) let me ask you this: would you, even as a desperate law student, risk asking a complete stranger on the internet for revision notes of which you have no assurance of quality, accuracy or anything else?

Who’d do that? It’s scary that someone who’d risk trying that has a training contract offer. (Sorry, that’s how I feel).

Btw – “a complete mare”. Excuse me? Is this new street talk?

Update: I’ve Googled it and thanks to Wiktionary, it seems it’s a colloquial contraction of “nightmare”.

(UK, colloquial) (Shortening of nightmare) A nightmare; a frustrating or terrible experience.

I'm having a complete mare today.

Well, there you go.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

To kill a mockingbird - I wish someone had killed me

Anything would have been better than reading that thing!

You’d have had to been holed up somewhere for your entire life to not be familiar with the award winning novel by Harper Lee. It’s often cited as being a must-read novel for aspiring lawyers and listed amongst the top 10 legal reads of all time.

to kill a mockingbirdI read it at school years ago as part of a GCSE English assessment. And I absolutely hated it. Every last word.

I’m not going to hold back here; I simply cannot recall a book I liked less. I found it utterly depressing, entirely un-compelling and am thankful I had no interest in a career in law at that point. It might have put me off for life. Even the copy I was dished up with at school stunk to high heaven of the wretched fish glue that bound it. That kind of literary experience takes some bouncing back from, believe me.  The fact our English teacher raved about, served only to heighten my disinterest. 

Adolescence and GCSEs is a tough combination at the best of times, but having to wade through a novel like that nearly finished me. Just over a third of the way through I gave up with that sucker and never looked back. Thank God for York Notes – that’s all I can say.

Anyhow, that’s enough of the schoolboy reverie. This post was intended to have some bearing on copyright (honest).

From the 1709 blog 05/05/13:

[The author of to Kill a Mockingbird,] Harper Lee, now aged 87, does not own the copyright to her book. That is owned by Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's former literary agent, and a company he allegedly created. The author has now filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, to re-secure the copyright and claiming unspecified damages[.]

The 87-year-old author alleges that in 2007, in a "scheme to dupe”, Pinkus took advantage of her declining hearing and eyesight to get her to assign the book's copyright to him and a company he controlled.

The lawsuit bids the court to assign any rights in the book owned by Mr Pinkus to Lee and asks that she be returned any commission he took from 2007 onwards saying

"The transfer of ownership of an author's copyright to her agent is incompatible with her agent's duty of loyalty; it is a gross example of self-dealing".

For all those interested in copyright law, this might be one to keep an eye on. To all students studying to kill a mockingbird, you have my profound sympathy.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Thief aping Santa Claus found dead in chimney at law firm

stuck in chimney(And who said I was lousy at coming up with blog post titles?!?) :p

From the Telegraph 03/05/13:

The body of a serial burglar was discovered wedged in the chimney of a Grade II–listed building after staff at a solicitor's office noticed an unpleasant smell.

He wasn’t dressed in a red tunic with white fur was he? Any sign of a herd of reindeer having landed on the roof in the recent past?

Police are investigating whether Kevin Gough attempted to break in to the building in St Mary's Gate, Derby, and became trapped.

It is thought the 42-year-old's body had been in the chimney of the Grade II listed building for several weeks. It emerged today that he is a serial burglar with a history of breaking into premises.

Officers were called to the firm of solicitors on Wednesday afternoon after staff reported a sickening smell wafting throughout the Grade II listed building.

Mr Gough's body is understood to have been significantly decomposed, which attracted an unusually high number of flies.

Don’t decomposing bodies usually attract a high number of flies? 

Mr Gough, who had no permanent address, has a string of previous convictions for targeting businesses.

It sounds like staff might need to vacate the premises while it’s fumigated. I wonder if the firm handles private client matters. Having potential business arrive on your premises beats chasing victims in ambulances I should think. 

I know, I know – these cheap jibes are in very poor taste.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

An enclosure you won’t forget

From the Metro 02/05/13:

[W]hen one angry Greater Anglia rail passenger was denied a refund on a ticket for a cancelled train he decided not to take rejection lying down.

He tightly rolled up the letter he had received from the company’s customer services department and enclosed it with his reply telling an advisor it would make it easier for him to ‘stick it up your arse’.

Well, there you go.  It’s to the point.  Actually, I’ve been tempted on occasions to respond with a similar suggestion when drafting a defence.  Sadly, I fear it wouldn’t sit too well with the Overriding Objective. 


Love it.