Expert Witnesses No Longer on Both Sides

It was recently announced by the former head of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) that the expert witnesses, who appear for both sides regarding a clinical negligence, will become the norm. Steve Walker retired in August as chief executive of the NHSLA after 16 years of service. He stated that after the Jackson reforms come into place next April, solicitors will be forced to find new ways in order to lower costs. Unlike EU practices, parties in the UK are allowed to bring their own experts so that they can give evidence on litigation proceeding issues that are complicated. During the Expert Witness Institute annual conference, Walker gave a speech regarding new upcoming joint instructions. He stated that even though this might be regarded as a bold step, it is worth enforcing if it leads to the truth. Currently, there are few best experts and they cannot spread themselves on too many cases. Fact is that at the moment, there is a race on getting the most critical experts on each and every case. The practice at the moment is not efficient in any way and actions will be taken for this to change.

Members of the institute should be careful not to gain a reputation for giving favorable evidence to one side. Former chief executive of NHSLA stated that should experts decide to give favorable evidence, the judge will know and this will inevitably lead to their lost. Walker urged all experts to be honest and impartial. However, he also shared that he has experienced ‘many examples of shortcomings’. This was particularly the case in the witness profession was a full-time career for the expert.

Steve Walker also admitted that more often than not corporate defendants fail to scrutinize the reports of the experts in much detail and claims are usually seen as a ‘process’. According to him, more and more cases will be dealt with through an automatic portal arrangement. Such type of cases will also include clinical negligence claims.

High Court judge Mr Justice Ramsey urged solicitors to work on and improve their understanding of how issues such as clinical negligence work in the era of ‘proportionate and predetermined costs’. He stated that ‘it is not longer appropriate to say to a claimant there is an open chequebook on expert evidence’. According to Mr Ramsey, solicitors seek expert advice when they have no idea on how to deal with a given issue. He state, however, that instead of hiring experts to investigate, the solicitors should themselves understand and then explain to clients the costs regarding a certain position. It will be no longer acceptable to be negligent in such situations or give favorable evidence to one side or another. It was reported that experts who appear on both sides regarding a clinical negligence will become the norm. It will be solicitors’ responsibility to stay informed and to inform experts as well as too look for ways in order to lower costs.

We might have no documents on “How to be an expert witness”, however we are happy that all of our clients witnesses high-quality legal and business documents, such as corporate documents, employment documents, health and safety – hr documents and much more.

EAW Opt-Out Plan

A proposal from the government has revealed that it intends to opt out around 130 EU measures for criminal justice, one of which includes the European arrest warrant (EAW). As a result, legal professions from across the entire UK have united and have asked for public consultation regarding the government’s proposal.

It was reported that during his trade visit in Brazil last week, Prime Minister David Cameron had mentioned that the government intentions regarding the criminal justice measures and said that the opt-out powers will be exercised by the end of this year.

Law societies across the UK have expressed concerns that the new proposal will make impossible the fight against cross-border crime. According to the Law societies in England and Wales, Scotland, North Ireland and the Bar council, the new reform will also threaten the law and order in the United Kingdom. The deadline for the government to make a decision about the proposal is end of May 2014. By this date, the government must inform the European Commission whether or not it will opt out the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht EU criminal justice measures.

Scott-Moncrieff, president of Law Society of England and Wales, commented on the government decision to remove EU criminal measures from the UK and expressed a concern that this may have even greater implications. The EU measures for criminal justice are mostly procedural and are enforced so that there is an established co-operation between different members of state, which all aim to fight cross-border crime. According to Law society president, the government must seek views from experienced practitioners and engage in a consultation process that is transparent to the public as well.

According to Bar chief Michael Todd QC, the government expects to save money by outing out from the EU criminal measures. However, he also stated that the government opt-out only relates to those measures which were established before the Treaty of Lisbon (2009). He stated that this may lead to even greater confusion and higher costs. Bar chief Todd supports the statement that of the government decides to put this plan into action, the law and order in the UK will be directly threatened. According to Todd, there is enough time for the government to consult with the public on this issue. It is through transparent consultation that the government could properly assess what impact the changes will have.  Todd also mentioned that if the government decides to go for the opt out plan, it might soon seek to opt back into the EU criminal justice measures in order to fight against cross-border crime. The president of the Law Society of Scotland, Austin Lafferty supported the words by Todd and also claimed that the government’s plan will cause confusion and lead to greater costs should it opt back in to some of the criminal measures. Law Society of Northern Ireland president Imelda McMillan also added that if the government does not consult with the public on this important issue, this will raise further concern in the legal profession not only in the UK, but across Europe as well.

At The Legal Stop, we do not specialise in criminal law, however, we can provide you with highest quality legal documents- employment contracts, shareholders agreements, legal agreements and much more.


New Benefit Reform Under Question

According to a recent report by think tank Resolution Foundation, people working on a part-time employment contract and also people who are unable to secure a full-time job, will potentially lose their right for benefits. Statistics show that there are about 1.4 million people in the UK who have only part-time jobs. The reforms will target those adults who cannot find a full-time job. About 1.2 out of the 1.4 million will have to provide evidence that they deserve to keep their right for benefits.

The Department of Work and Pensions has targeted part-time workers in order to push them to find a full-time job. By removing the benefits entitled to those workers, the Department aims to force them into full-time employment so that they can make a difference not only for themselves but also for the community as well. Part-time workers will be thus encourages to get additional hours at their present jobs, to look for another job, or to seek a higher wage.

The reforms announced are also part of the government’s recent plan for introducing a new benefits system called Universal Credit. The Universal Credit plan will combine several existing benefit systems in one. Some of them include, but are not limited to, income-base Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefits. Ministers strongly believe that the existing benefit system is costly and outdated and thus needs to be replaced with a new one. The Universal Credit plan is said to replace the current system and to be implemented in October 2013.

Despite the positive sides that the government sees in the reform, there are also concerns whether or not it will actually work in practice. According to the Resolution Foundation, if the reform is put into practice, it might be really difficult for the job centers to cope with additional 1.2 million people. Many other organizations also expressed concerns about the new reforms and system and questioned its implementation. One of the concerns is that it will not be possible for the claimants to take extra hours at work or even find another job. With 1.2 million people the odds of finding a second part-time job, or even a full-time employment, are close to impossible. There are also even bigger concerns regarding the currently weak labor market and the fact that people are willing to work more hours but there is no opportunity to do that. As good as the reform may sound; it is actually questionable whether or not claimants will be able to function in this context.

It was reported that in the past month about 74 charities, councils and other organizations had submitted written papers of evidence revealing all the concerns and questions they had about the new benefit system and how hard it will be to implement and put into practice. Some of the issues discussed in those papers concerned risks of paying benefits to one household member and whether the IT infrastructure as well as staff will be ready in time.




It Has Never Been Easier to Become a Cyber Criminal

William Hague will attend a conference in Budapest, where he will warn the attendees of the dangers hidden behind Internet – the cyber crimes. According to him this kind of crime is “”one of the greatest global and strategic challenges of our time.”

Mr Hague is determined to show that the UK takes leading positions in the fight against cyber crime by investing in cyber security. The government plans to spend over £2m for establishing a cybercrime center to help and prevent this practice. In addition, Mr Hague intends to set up international hot lines to help dealing with emergency situations.

In his speech he will include an example of a company, which has had files stolen from their networks, equivalent to over 20m A4 paper pages.

Another important point, which will be outlined by Mr Hague is the fact that currently there is a malicious software packages on sale, which helps offenders to commit their crimes and drain bank accounts for as less as £3000.00, what is more there is a 24 hours open help line.

Mr Hague will say: “It has never been easier to become a cyber criminal. Today, such attacks are crisscrossing the globe from north to south and east to west – in all directions, recognising no borders, with all countries in the firing line.”

The UK cybercrime center is intended  to offer help for other countries, which recognise the seriousness of the problem and are ready to deal with it.

In this conference Mr Hague would also draw attention to the countries, which use the internet against the citizens, by shutting down the network at times of unrest, for example

“Those governments who attempt this are erecting barricades against an unstoppable tide,” he will say.

The Cabinet Secretary, Francis Maude will also attend the Budapest conference.The two-day event is intended to build on progress made at a similar conference in London last November.

No, we do not know where you can buy the software Mr Hague is talking about and it is highly recommended not to do it. Instead, buy some of our legal documents and ensure your company is fully equipped from a legal point of view.

CCTV Surveillance – To Breach Human Rights?

The new  advanced CCTV cameras, introduced recently in the UK, could be breaching human rights laws, warned Andrew Rennison, UK`s first surveillance commissioner.

He says that the new high definition cameras were constantly ” popping up all over the place ” and the fast development of this technology might result in severe difficulties to regulate it properly. These cameras use a supreme face recognition functionality, which successfully identifies faces in 90% of the time. However, many people are not aware the  surveillance technology has reached such a high level of sophistication.

“I’m convinced that if we don’t regulate it properly – ie: the technological ability to use millions of images we capture – there will be a huge public backlash,” said Mr Rennison. “It is the Big Brother scenario playing out large. It’s the ability to pick out your face in a crowd from a camera which is probably half a mile away.”

He used the term “BigBrother” in reference to the George Orwell`s novel “1984″, where people are being constantly monitoring for any “wrongdoing”. The CCTV monitoring technology is being critiqued by many people, as it is breaching personal privacy. Roughly there are over 1.85m CCTV cameras around the UK and because of this Rennison is concerned that at some point this technology might be recognised as a reason to breach human rights laws, protecting the rights for personal life.

“I don’t want the state to carry on and start pushing the boundaries. Let’s have a debate – if the public support it, then fine,” he stated. “If the public don’t support it, and we need to increase the regulation, then that’s what we need to do.”-concluded Mr Rennison.

At least with the implementation of this technology will have a positive effect on corruption rates, as the corrupted individuals will never know whether they are “completely alone” or not. In the mean time, you can check our Anti-bribery and Corruption Policy.

Intellectual Property Claims – Quick, Easy, Cheap

Intellectual property cases will now be assigned to smaller claims court, which will make it easier, cheaper and quicker for individuals and small businesses to deal with such kind of issues.

Intellectual property claims of less than £5,000 in value will be settles by a new framework by small claims court and it is expected that in future this limit will be increased to £10,000

In addition, claimants will have the opportunity to attend “informal hearings”, with no need of legal representation. This change is “expected to reduce significantly the cost of pursuing IP infringement cases”.says IPO (Intellectual Property Office)

The umbrella term of intellectual property (IP) protects creative products across a wide range of sectors and is underpinned by inherent rights such as copyright and those that require registration, such as patents and trademarks.

From now on people working in the creative business niche, such as designers, photographers etc, will be able to protect their rights and claim intellectual property offences easier and cheaper, as they will save lots of legal expenses.

All intellectual property claims made under the small claims track will be heard at the Patents County Court (PCC). Currently, there is only one court in London, however it will not be necessary for people living outside London to travel for the hearings, as this can be done over the phone. Together with the hearing and the case documents, a decision can be made.

“A smarter and cheaper process is good for business and helping businesses make the most of their intellectual property is good for the economy.Lower legal costs will make it easier for entrepreneurs to protect their creative ideas where they had previously struggled to access justice in what could often be an expensive progress.”says Business Minister, Michael Fallon.

It follows the introduction of a cap of £500,000 on payouts for damages in intellectual property cases and a maximum of £50,000 towards costs. At the High Court, however, where the most complex cases will still be heard, payouts remain unlimited.

Be careful with your own work, in order to prevent people who stole from you to benefit from your efforts. In every business there are hidden dangers, but one of the possible protections is the Non-disclosure agreement.

Government Plan on Taking Portion Of Medical Negligence Compensation Under Question

The ministry has decided to back down on the plan to take a quarter of medical negligence competence which is awarded in cases of general damages. The government has backed down on the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme as it is claimed that it will hit parents of brain injured kids the most. The Ministry of Justice has decided to take back the plan which was supposed to provide the government with 25% of damages which are usually awarded to those people who use legal aid. Parents, and their children in particular, who have become victims of medical negligence are awarded with certain amount which is particularly designed to help them.

In cases of medical negligence, parents are awarded with certain amount so that they can take care of their children in the years to come. The Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme that the government back down on would have hit those parents the hardest and the amount of compensation that they would have potentially lost amounts to tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme was the government latest attempt in reducing the legal aid budget. Legal aid represents a taxpayer-funded service which is supposed to help those people in need of legal guidance and representation, but who cannot afford to pay for it. In 2008/2009 around £2.1 billion was said to have been spent on legal aid. According to the Ministry of Justice, about £10 million pounds a year could have been taken back only if the proposed powers have been put into practice. The MoJ also added that £9 million out of the £10 million pounds would have come from negligence cases.

The plan for the government taking a portion of medical negligence compensation faced a lot of criticism. The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is said to be the leader of the charge. A month ago, the charity launched a petition and claimed that the changes would result in making the clinical negligence claims look “unrealistic” through legal aid. The charity also accused the government of “scrapping legal aid for all clinical negligence cases through the back door”.

However, the Chief Exec of AvMA Peter Walsh recently announced that the recently appointed ministers at the MoJ have recognized “the gross unfairness and irrationality” of the plan that was being proposed. He also added that “it beggars belief that their predecessors were prepared to raid the damages of children brain-damaged by clinical negligence to subsidise their department”.

In spite of everything, a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice has announced that there are more cuts yet to come. He stated that with the amount reaching £2bn per year, the UK government has one of the most expensive legal aid systems worldwide. Given the current financial crises around the globe and in the UK, it is no longer possible for the government to continue to afford this. A cut of £320 million on legal aid is expected by 2014-2015.

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No Sympathy for Burglars Wounded in Farm House Robbery Attempt

On September 2nd, in Leicestershire, near Melton Mowbray, two men attempted to rob a farm cottage. Instead, they got shot by the owner of the property. According to a judge, the burglars should have expected to be shot for entering a property of a gun owner. It is stated in the law that people in good faith and using reasonable force can defend themselves with any means they feel are necessary to protect themselves, their families or property from intruders.

Judge Michael Pert QC ironically stated to the burglars Daniel Mansell, 33, and Joshua O’Gorman, 27, that it is only normal to be shot once you have entered someone else’s private property in order to rob it. After all, the two burglars should have expected such an outcome given the fact that the owner of the property they entered was in the possession of a gun. The two men are now sentenced to four-year prison.

Despite the fact that both burglars pleaded guilty on an early hearing, the judge refused to accept the plea that the shooting by the owner must be treated as a mitigating factor. The plea was made on the account that the shooting caused not only injuries to the burglars, but also ‘trauma’ from what happened that day. The owner of the cottage farm, Andy Ferrie, 35, has a legal right for the gun he possesses. It was reported that he shot O’Gorman in the face and Mansell in the right hand after one of the burglars reached for a drawer that was full of kitchen knives.

The judge showed little sympathy to the two burglars. He stated that as long as someone is robbing someone else’s house or property, to be shot is not mitigation itself. After all, if you choose to burglar a house in the country, which owner is more that likely to legally own a shotgun, then it is only normal to expect that he will probably shoot at you. There is that chance with robbing farm cottages. That is why, burglars cannot expect to come to court and plead for a lighter sentence just because the owner shot at them. Mr. Ferrie was reported to have been arrested for suspicion of grievous bodily harm and because of that he was held in custody for about two days along with his wife, Tracey, 43. The couple was then released and no criminal charges were made against them. According to the judge, the experience that Mr. Perry had could have been as upsetting as the ones claimed by the burglars themselves.

The chief prosecutor for the East Midlands, Judith Walker announced that she was satisfied to see that householders can act in a reasonable self-defense when faced with intruders in frightening circumstances. She also added that the law clearly states that as long as anyone ‘acts in good faith, using reasonable force, doing what they honestly feel is necessary to protect themselves, their families or their property, will not be prosecuted for such action’.

If your business needs any legal documents, there is no need to shoot anyone, as The Legal Stop has everything you need – highest quality legal documents.

Chief Mitchell unfortunate outburst

Andrew Mitchell has recently apologized in public for police altercation. He was reported to have caused an angry confrontation with the security guards at 10 Downing Street for not opening the front gates and letting him drive off on his bicycle. Mr. Mitchell has already apologized in public and it is said that the police officers have accepted his apology. However, there are still many people who want to see him resign. Mr. Mitchell may wish for things to settle and for people to forget about the incident, however, it will not be that easy given the recent shooting in Manchester where two police men were killed while on duty.

Andrew Mitchell, Tory Chief Whip, is said to have apologized after causing an angry confrontation with a police officer. The incident happened on Downing Street last Wednesday when Mitchell was leaving the premises of 10 Downing Street. Michael wished to cycle through the main gaits, but the police officer did not let him do that. The reason for this was due to the security rules which restrict the guard police to open the front gates often. He swore at the guard police officers because they refused to open the gates for him. Mr. Mitchell was also reported to have called them ‘plebs’.

After this incident, Mr. Mitchell received a lot of criticism and there was also a dressing down from David Cameron himself. Furthermore, there were some people who asked for him to resign his post. Last week, Mr. Mitchell apologized publicly for causing the ugly confrontation. He added that despite the fact that he did not use the words which were attributed to them, he admits that he did not treat the policemen with the respect that they deserve.  It was also announced that the police officers at the gate have accepted his apology and everything was all right.

Even though the incident has been put to rest, there is still pressure from different quarters. Mr. Mitchell pronounced that he would like to ‘draw a line’ and forget the incident ever happened. He claims that some of the words that have been attributed to him have not been actually used. He was, at that time, very modest with what he said. However, many people, including Deputy PM Nick Clegg, have asked him to actually clarify what words he has used and what exactly he said.

The chairmen of Met Police Federation, Mr. John Tully has requested Downing Street to launch an enquiry and make things clear. According to him, the fact that Mr. Mitchell put the officer’s integrity into question is unacceptable. The time of the incident was completely unfortunate for chief Mitchell as only recently two policemen got killed in Manchester while serving their duties. Mr. Mitchell might have apologized in public for causing the ugly incident, but things may not settle as soon as he hopes.

At The Legal Stop we cannot guarantee your employees and partners will always behave appropriate , however we can provide you with the highest quality legal documents, such as employment documents, agreements and policies.

Tagging offenders in UK ten times more expensive than in the US

The tagging of offenders is not used effectively and that is why a think tank has called for changes to be made as soon as possible. According to e recent report, the current use of tagging offenders is done in an ineffective way. It was announced that there will be changes in the electronic tagging systems which are said to save the UK government millions of pounds each year.

The conservative policy institute Policy Exchange has announced in a recent report that the current tagging of offenders is ineffective and thus costs too much for the government. The conservative policy institutes also states that £70m pounds could be saved only if the electronic monitoring of offenders across the UK is done by police or probation officers.  However, this is currently a responsibility of private firms. Such private firms include G4S and Serco. These companies not only provide but also administer the technology that is being used for tagging offenders. Nonetheless, Policy Exchange believes that these companies must provide support to the police and probation departments by supplying the devices. It will be then the job of the police and probation department to fir the technology devices to the offenders themselves. Additionally, the report made by the conservative policy institute also revealed that tagging a single offender in both England and Wales costs more than ten times than tagging one in the United States.

The claim that tagging offenders is used in an ineffective way has also been supported by the Future of Corrections report. According to this report, even though that the current electronic system for tagging offenders has a lot of potential; it is not being used effectively in terms of reducing crime. The Future of Corrections report suggests that it is the policemen who should advise both courts and prison officials on which offenders need to be tagged. The author of the report, Rory Geoghegan, stated that if the use of tagging continues to be extended without taking into consideration the current reforms, will eventually cost millions of pounds. Failing to recognize the importance of the reforms does not only concern money being wasted, but it also concerns the fact that the opportunity for cutting crime will be eventually missed.

Conversely, Richard Morris, group managing director of G4S Care and Justice Services, argued that these findings are not accurate. He stated that the tags generally provide “a robust alternative to expensive prison custody”. That is why; “tens of millions of pounds each year” are actually saved to taxpayers. He also added that over the years, the private firms have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice assuring that changes are made for the better execution of tagging offenders electronically. The firms have introduced innovative ideas and changes to the original services and this has resulted in good, even improved, value for money.

The UK government has stated that compared with current reforms and agreements, new contracts for electronic monitoring will bring even more value for money next April.