WELCOME to our Autumn newsletter – we have had a tremendous summer (weather wise) and it is a little disheartening once we get into October, knowing that it won’t be too long before the clocks go forward giving us very dark, gloomy evenings. We continue to be very busy at S J Edney and we are pleased to welcome a new employee, Margaret Hansel who will be assisting both Seamus and Mary with their personal injury workloads. Margaret is training to be a Legal Executive and she will be a great asset to the firm. There have also been a number of important changes in how lawyers conduct personal injury litigation since April 2013 which are outlined in our newsletter. These changes are keeping us very busy! We also have a meeting coming up shortly with NHS England, to discuss what steps can be taken to avoid doctors abusing their position of trust following the criminal prosecution of Dr Bains. It is hoped that important changes will be made by the NHS to ensure that this type of abuse by a doctor does not happen again.
5 MONTHS ON FOLLOWING THE JACKSON REFORMS
Since the 1 April 2013 there have been some very important changes made to how solicitors conduct civil litigation and these have now been running for some 5 months with mixed results. They are called “the Jackson Reforms” after the Judge who recommended these changes should be made.
Briefly, they fall into four broad categories:-
- those reforms affecting all civil work, for example, the abolition of the recoverability of a success fee and after-the-event insurance premiums from an unsuccessful Defendant;
- special rules for personal injury work, such as the introduction of a damages based cap on the success fee, namely the success fee paid by the Claimant cannot exceed 25% of their agreed damages;
- those applying only to personal injury work, for example, solicitors are no longer able to pay a referral fee for work and the introduction of One-Way Costs Shifting (OWCS) and Fixed Costs for lower value personal injury claims;
- since the 31 July 2013, all personal injury claims upto the value of £25,000.00 have to be submitted on-line, via a Portal administered by the Ministry of Justice, with fixed costs payable depending on what stage the case is concluded.
Sadly for us lawyers, the changes in how we conduct personal injury cases will continue. In particular, it is very likely that there will be an increase on the small claims limit for personal injury cases which has remained at £1,000.00 for some years. A government announcement on this subject is expected in October 2013 and it is thought that the limit will be increased upto £5,000.00 or possibily as much as £10,000.00. This is what the insurance industry want; a Claimant can only recover their legal and other fees if they receive damages in excess of the small claims limit. In effect, many Claimants will be left having to either represent themselves or paying their own legal fees out of their agreed damages. In our view, any increase will make it far more difficult for people to access justice if they have been a victim of an accident.
As mentioned in previous newsletters, S J Edney are acting for 21 women who were all sexually abused by Bains whilst they were his patients at Tinkers Lane Surgery in Royal Wootton Bassett.
NHS England have agreed to our request for a meeting which will take place at our office on the 3 October 2013. Following his imprisonment, they are investigating how this abuse happened and they will be producing their own report with recommendations to try to avoid it happening again in the future, at any GP surgery.
NHS England will be sending a high powered delegation to this meeting and two of the topics which we will be raising are:-
- We would like to see improvements made on the rather wishy washy chaperone policy that exists in most GP practices and that puts the emphasis/responsibility on the individual patient to request a chaperone during an intimate examination.
- The problem many female patients have with all male GP practices – there should be some arrangement with another local GP practice whereby female patients are given the choice to see a female GP for an intimate examination if that is their wish.
It is hoped that this meeting will be productive and NHS England will take on board our client’s comments about what happened and their suggestions as to how things can be changed to prevent this type of abuse occurring again.
RECENT NUMBERS IN THE PRESS
The final toll of workers fatally injured between April 2012 and March 2013, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an improvement on the 172 workers who lost their lives due to an injury at work last year but this is still an appalling statistic.
The number of clinical negligence claims recorded in the latest annual figures published by the Department of Work & Pensions’ compensation recovery unit, an 18% rise from the year before.
In the biggest personal injury case of its kind, 18,000 claimants decide to take action against Portuguese company Sonae following a fire at its Kirkby chipboard plant in 2011. Sonae, which formally admitted liability back in January for the fire, will defend itself in a three-week trial between July and September 2014. The Claimants, argue that they have suffered adverse health effects after the fire which burned for eight days and released toxins into the local area.
The Direct Line Group reveal in a recent report that it received £6.1m in referral fees from solicitors in the first half of 2013 and another £8.1m in credit hire fees.
The amount that whiplash claims (estimated in a recent report by the ABI Lifting the bonnet on car insurance – what are the real costs?) make up in an average £440 car insurance premium. £242 is the cost factored in for car repairs and replacement vehicles.
The percentage of GPs in 2012 who did not make an urgent referral of children that were eventually diagnosed with children’s eye cancer, retinoblastoma.