NEW LEGAL AID CONTRACT
We are pleased to report that our tender to renew our civil legal aid contract with the Legal Services Commission for clinical negligence cases has been successful. This new contract will come into force during November 2010 and will run for 3 years.
Unfortunately, there are a number of law firms who were unsuccessful with their tenders especially for family and social & welfare contracts which will result in there being a number of areas throughout the country where people may no longer be able to get the help they need.
The Legal Services Commission have said that changes to the provision of legal aid should not reduce access to the service although the number of firms now able to offer legal aid has been cut from 2400 to 1300 leading to accusations that vulnerable people could be left without representation.
From the 6 October 2010, any member of the public who wishes to complain about a lawyer should get in contact with the new Legal Ombudsman (LeO) – www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Before this date, existing complaints were handled by one of the following professional bodies namely:-
- Legal Complaints Service for solicitors
- Bar Standards Board for barristers – www.barstandardsboard.org.uk
- Institute of Legal Executives for legal executives – www.ilex.org.uk
All these bodies will stop accepting new complaints on the 5 October 2010. They will have up until the 31 March 2011 to deal with their current complaints. If their complaints are not concluded by then, they will be passed to the LeO for conclusion.
The new LeO will provide a free service and be independent of any of the professional bodies referred to above. They will look at all complaints in a fair and independent way and will not take sides. This change in handling complaints is aimed at simplifying the system and hopefully making it more effective.
Professional Negligence Claims Soar
The number of professional services firms that are sued for negligence increased by 125% during 2009 to the highest level in more than a decade.
Solicitors face the most lawsuits with negligence claims arising from 80 in 2008 to 210 last year. Many of the claims against solicitors involve allegations of complicity in mortgage fraud. Lenders who have lost money because of mortgage fraud often regard pursuing solicitors and their other professional advisers as their best hope of recovering their losses.
The sharp rise in claims has resulted in huge increases in premiums for professional negligence insurance. Many small law firms, especially those who specialise in conveyancing are facing increases of upto 300% in the cost of their compulsory annual insurance cover which is causing crippling cash flow shortages as their fee income has also dropped due to the recent economic downturn.
The market for solicitors PI insurance was further squeezed by the collapse of Quinn, the Irish insurer that covered about 2900 small law firms in UK. Many of those firms are struggling to find replacement insurance by the 1 October 2010 deadline or have been forced to pay significantly higher premiums.
Workplace Death Rates fall to a record low
Some good news. The number of people killed at work fell to a record low last year according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE reported that 151 workers were killed between the 1 April 2009 and the 31 March 2010 compared with 178 the previous year. Despite the national trend for fewer deaths at work, the agricultural sector – the most dangerous industry in Britain – showed a marked increase. Last year 38 agriculture workers were killed up from 25 in 2008/09 which is a major cause for concern.
Client Referral Scheme
If a former or an existing client recommends either a friend or a member of their family to our firm for advice about an accident or medical negligence claim and we are able to help them, as a token of our thanks we would give that client a £100.00 worth of vouchers of their choice or alternatively make a donation of this value to their nominated charity.
This newsletter was produced by S J Edney solicitors Telephone: 01793 600721
Also read my blog – click here https://www.accidentspecialistsolicitors.co.uk/news/