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Steps to Take Following an Accident or Injury

Have you been injured because of the negligence of a person or a company? If you have, the things you do next will determine whether you will win or lose your court case when you attempt to win monetary damages from the responsible party. There are important steps you must take and pieces of evidence that must be collected in the proper order. Failure to do even one of these things will severely damage your case and limit your lawyer’s ability to argue on your behalf in a court of law. Here are some of the most important things to do when you have been injured:

1. File a police report

You need to make sure everything is properly documented with law enforcement. This is especially true if you believe that you have sustained injuries that will cause you to miss extensive time from your job. A police report will be very valuable if you think you are going to need to sue the negligent party to get money that you are owed for your medical expenses and your lost wages.

2. Talk to witnesses

When you go to court, you will need to prove that events unfolded exactly how you claim they did. The police report will definitely help you to do this. However, you can never have too much evidence supporting your case. This is why it is crucial that you talk to every person who was in the area and witnessed the accident when it happened. Take notes about exactly what they saw. Your lawyer will need this information later if he or she decides to call them as witnesses during your case. Ideally, you need to find people who clearly saw what happened and have a vivid memory of specific details that could support your claim that you were the victim of negligence. Do not forget to get the name, address and phone number of all the people you talk to. Your lawyer may want to talk to these people further to determine if they are good candidates to be called as witnesses.

3. Contact a personal injury lawyer

Your first phone call after your accident should be to an experienced personal injury lawyer. You should try to find one with at least five years of experience handing personal injury cases. Look for a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law. This will ensure that he or she knows all of the intricate details of the personal injury laws in your area. Consider calling HSH lawyers if you are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Kitchener. Their skilled trial lawyers have dealt with personal injury cases for more than three decades. You can go to http://www.hshlawyers.com/offices/kitchener/ to find out what they can do for you.

4. Set up a consultation

You will need to meet with several lawyers before you decide to hire one. Most lawyers offer a totally free consultation that will allow you to explain your case. The lawyer will then tell you if he or she believes that you have a legitimate shot of winning the case if you decide to sue the person or company you believe is responsible for your injury. In some cases, the lawyer may tell you that there is simply not enough evidence of negligence to move forward. You will need to decide if you want to give up or go to a different lawyer.

Requirements for PPI Claims

The scandal of the payment protection insurance saga has exposed the darker side of financial institutions and made people realize that they can indeed find recompense in the law – even against some of the biggest and most powerful businesses in the country.  If you are among the thousands of people affected by the PPI fraud that occurred, knowing about PPI basics will help you get quick and effective compensation.

Most cases of PPI mis-selling have arisen due to reasons like the customer not being aware of having taken the policy, the provider not explaining the terms to the customer, and in some cases the customer is made to take the policy as a compulsory one without which he could not get the loan he applied for.

You can make a PPI complaint if you find that the features of the loan were not explained properly to you. The features include:

  • Inclusions and exclusions linked to the policy
  • The age limit- The limit is generally 65 to 70 years, but if the borrower is older than the limit then he is eligible for getting a PPI refund
  • Employment status and its affect on a policy or claim on the insurance

Other conditions in which you can claim compensation include having alternative cover at the time of taking the policy and in cases where the insurance will expire before the loan term.

Making the Complaint

You should first approach the PPI policy provider and explain your eligibility for getting the reimbursement. There are letter templates that can help you with this. You can customize the PPI assistance forms by deleting the parts that do not apply in your case. If the concerned firm disagrees with your claim, you can approach the Financial Ombudsman service.

There are PPI Claims Companies agencies that also offer PPI help, but charge a certain percentage of the refund as fees.  These companies usually have experts on hand to ensure the compensation process is quicker and trouble-free. Also, they are often approached by customers who could not get the desired PPI claims by approaching the policy provider directly and want assistance in the claiming process.

Lawyers claiming Mental Capacity Act misuse

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Lawyers have this week told a committee in the House of Lords that as a result of the difficulty in understanding and the complexity of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) thousands of people who are vulnerable are being arrested and detained against the law and not according to the scope of the Act. A lawyer when presenting his findings to the House of Lords committee stated that the safeguards provided within the MCA under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were only minimal and were overly complex, hard to grasp and too bureaucratic. Further criticisms were aimed at the Court of Protection which is responsible for mental capacity cases in which the person is unable to make a decision for himself. The procedure was said to be overly expensive as well as badly organised and inefficient. The lawyer further added that the procedure in the court needs to have a greater level of flexibility.

The select professionals who appeared before the select committee in the House of Lords in order to give evidence on the MCA 2005 were mutually in agreement that the Act itself was a good foundation and well thought however, they were highly critical of its implementation which did not reflect the Act’s intentions and purpose. The lawyers said that mentally ill patients are not properly assessed or given a evaluation as to their best-interest rather, carers make decisions on their behalf and get on the with the situation. The Court of Protection which is there to offer legal guidance and advice is so far and separate from most carers working in the family environment that it is only a small number of workers who seek advice and help from it.

Katie Johnson who is a policy officer at Liberty the campaigning group stated that the main human rights issue regarding the MCA is that a large number of people are being detained in breach of their protected rights under Article 5 which provides people with the right to liberty and security. Further evidence was orally provided to the committee which pointed out a further flaw in the Act that being that legal aid is granted to disabled people who are victims of physical abuse but the same is not available to persons who are the victims of psychological abuse. The committee will continue with its investigation and is due to compile a report of its findings in the early stages of 2014.

Legal Education & Training – A Missed Opportunity

The long awaited report into legal training and education was released recently.

After being commissioned by the three regulatory bodies of the legal profession, the SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority), the BSB (Bar Standards Board) and the ILEX Professional Standards (for Legal Executives), and after several years, Professor Julian Webb and his team submitted their initial report into legal services education and training (LSET) before the Big Three regulators.

The findings? The breathtaking and groundbreaking changes?

As Prof. Webb stated at the beginning of the report, the current LSET system provides  “a good standard of education and training, enabling the development of the core knowledge and skills needed for practice across the range of regulated professions.” Such an approach summarises the findings.

LETR found that there were no grave issues for concern, and no drastic changes were needed. However, when the study was commissioned in 2011, and indeed today, many in the legal profession felt that, although not dreadful, there were some issues with LSET that needed to be addressed.

Not according to LETR. Admittedly, some issues and concerns were raised (ethics, the role of paralegals, more standardised training and other minor issues), but no great deficiencies were found in the current system.

There is a sense amongst commentators and those in the legal profession that the report lacked ‘bite’ and impact, and that, essentially, this was a missed opportunity to effect change in LSET, and to address what issues there were. With a collective shrug of their shoulders, commentators have accepted it for better or worse. On his Lawyer Watch blog, Richard Moorhead addresses LETR very succinctly (LETR: Why everyone is happy and no one is smiling).

The report does identify areas of concern- it does make recommendations for action. However, it falls short of making definitive, sweeping recommendations, and does not advocate any form of definitive action.

LETR is very vague; it is almost as if it is an united guest trying to make itself inconspicuous. It mentions ‘issues’ and ‘points for concern’, but fails to address what those are. It then further fails to suggest changes to tackle those issues.

The Big Three regulators, in their response, have welcomed the report, and say that its findings will be taken into consideration. It must be noted that none of the regulators are bound to accept and implement the report’s findings. Essentially, it is business as usual for the regulators- especially as little has changed. Law schools have taken a similar line in response.

There are some radical suggestions, though. The suggestion for paralegals to be able to practice law for staters, as is removing wills and advocacy from the LPC. Given the muted reaction to the report overall, it is unlikely that these bold steps will be given the consideration that they deserve.

The report highlights that fact that there is nothing wrong with LSET in this jurisdiction. That is beyond the point; also, such knowledge was well known. The report did little to identify and alter what issues there are.

Everyone is happy with the outcome of the LETR, despite the issues with gathering the research, and several delays. However, no one is thrilled with it. The general feeling is one of business as normal, and very much a missed opportunity.

 

Guest Article written by Kate Matheson of NoWinNoFeeClaims.co.

MOJ to Name and Shame Rogue PPI Claims Firms

MOJ

Claims management regulator, The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), has recently confirmed that it plans to name and shame rogue PPI claims companies on their website allowing consumers to see exactly what rules have been broken and by whom, and the reason that action has been taken.

Head of Claims Management Regulation Kevin Rousell said: “Consumers can sometimes unknowingly sign-up to a CMC that may be under investigation by my Unit… By creating an online list that names CMCs that are being investigated it will ensure consumers know exactly what action is being taken and the reason for it. It will also give consumers peace of mind that their complaints are being acted upon”.

The move, brought about by the increasing number of complaints against PPI claims firms has been welcomed by leading claims management compnay, Mis Sold PPI Claims Co, which have stated that “We welcome these changes as they will give consumers better protection against rogue CMC’s who are making it increasingly difficult for legitimate firms to work in this sector”.

We think this move long overdue, as many other regulatory bodies such as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), and the Health Professions Council (HPC) already have similar processes in place. The idea of making public any disciplinary proceedings and actions currently affecting licensed Claims Management Companies should send a clear message of intent to CMC’s that the MOJ will not tolerate firm that flout or break the rules.

The MOJ has already banned over 100 PPI claim firms and warned a further 149 to clean up their act. Last year, more than 10,000 complaints were made to the regulator, which found that the main reasons for consumer complaints were misleading marketing, high-pressure sales techniques, poor complaints systems and unclear fees.

As part of an industry wide crackdown, the MOJ is also looking to ban advertisements that offer cash incentives to vulnerable individuals for signing up to use their services, as well as new conduct rules that will put an end to all verbal contract arrangements between consumers and CMCs thereby enforcing written contracts before any fee can be taken.

Europe and Employment Law

The current debate over an upcoming referendum on UK membership of the EU has raised some serious questions. Many people remain apathetic to the situation – citing the ‘it will all be the same anyway’ excuse – but the truth is that European law has exerted a lot of power and influence over how we live our lives, and in particular, how we can go about our daily working life.

The EU’s influence over employment law in the UK is colossal, and there have been many changes that have come about thanks to this power. The following are just a few that would affect us all as employees:

  • Pregnancy/maternity/paternity leave rights
  • Minimum paid annual leave
  • Agreed working hours
  • Equal pay

Taking just those few we can see that changes – including the maximum 48 hour week, with exceptions, and the minimum annual leave of 28 days could have a major effect on smaller companies.

More Changes from Europe

The EU has also had a hand in devising and implementing discrimination laws, parental leave changes, the rights of agency workers and part time employees and so on, and to publish a full list would mean dedicating many pages. Some of these changes have been very much in the favour of the employee, but where smaller, newer employers are concerned – start up businesses and so on – there are serious concerns that they could be harmful in the long run.

Even if the UK votes against membership of the EU – if and when the promised referendum arrives – changing laws that have been implemented under EU law will be difficult. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that while we remain under EU membership, we are party to many amendments to the laws regarding employment, and some of them may not be to our satisfaction.

 

Legal Aid Sector Concerned Amidst Effects of Reforms

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Despite great opposition from parliament, lobbyists, and the legal sector, Kenneth Clarke’s highly unpopular legal aid cuts came into effect. From 1st April, legal aid is no longer available in most civil law areas. Family disputes such as divorce and custody are no longer covered, as are welfare, immigration, employment, clinical negligence, housing, debt, benefit and education.

Although savings of around £350m are to be made to the Ministry of Justice budget, and additional savings in court time and money will be made over time, critics point out the cost of these savings is too high.

Many legal charities and legal aid firms are feeling the effects already. Government figures estimate that around 600,000 people will lose access to justice with the withdrawal of funding; some constituencies already have no legal aid firms. Some centres have had to turn people away. Indications show that up to 1,000 law firms taking cases up backed by legal aid are likely to diversify to different areas of law, or close.

The lack of free legal advice or representation in certain legal areas will have a dramatic impact on people’s lives. In a pseudo- postcode lottery, legal advice services are heavily concentrated in London and the south east, making it easier for claimants to get the free advice they need. In other areas, especially the north, Midlands, south west and Wales, legal advice is less widespread, resulting in such closures affecting people and communities more. This and other reports has raised great concern in the legal sector that the most vulnerable and most in need will be denied access to justice, advice or representation.

Another effect already being witnessed as the changes come into force is on legal sector jobs. Several Citizen Advice Bureaux have sent out redundancy notices to many staff, and several similar charities have been forced to close offices. A survey, conducted by the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick and the website ilegal, found that 29% of legal aid workers felt at personal risk of losing their job over the cuts. The most experienced legal aid workers were at the greatest risk of redundancy, in addition to workers in areas of high demand such as housing, debt and welfare benefits.

In a great change in working ethos and culture, some previously free legal centres have now had to start charging for their services- a move which the legal sector as a whole was most anxious and determined to avoid.

In measures to avoid denying claimants access to justice, the government and the Big Lottery are to invest £65m in providing support over the next two years to law centres while the transition is made, with telephone and online advice centres also being opened. The Bar Council has recently published a handbook to assist and advice the expected increasing numbers of litigants in person (LIP’s; claimants who represent themselves in court). Justice Minister Lord McNally has stated that, even after the changes, the government will be spending £1.7bn in legal aid annually, and will have contracts with solicitors nationwide to ensure that all claimants can get representation and advice.

Kenneth Clarke’s legal aid reforms, since proposed, were controversial, and have met great opposition at all levels. Coming into force only a week ago on April 1st, the effects in cutbacks, jobs, and the inability of claimants to get legal advice is already evident.

Of the reforms and their impact, ilegal founder Patrick Torsney stated that “these findings are indicative of the precarious state of the whole legal aid advice sector in this country at the moment. Urgent action is required to protect it. Without such action there will be terrible consequences for vulnerable people across the country and for our legal system itself.”

Guest article provided by Henry Court. Henry has published on a number of sites and works in conjunction with PPICalculator.co.uk – fighting for fairness and compensation for everyday people.

Lawmakers Propose Reforming Class Action Laws to Fight Price Fixing

Government officials recently stated that existing laws do not extend enough protection to people who have become victims to price fixing. Several lawmakers are proposing revisions to the law that would make it easier for consumers and businesses to file class action lawsuits against companies who use abusive pricing schemes.

The government has consulted with a number of experts. They have come to the conclusion that existing competition laws are antiquated and ineffective. They hope that the changes they make can provide the necessary protections to consumers and businesses throughout the country. The biggest problem with the existing law is the complexity of the bureaucracy. Consumers must invest substantial amounts of money to launch class action lawsuits and spend months or years trying to navigate the legal system.

The new law would stipulate that all competition cases would be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This would allow plaintiffs to get justice in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. This new venue would also be beneficial to many small and medium sized businesses that have had a difficult time filing anti-competition lawsuits against larger companies.

The new system would also automatically include all consumers in a class-action lawsuit unless they expressly stated that they do not want to be part of it. The government feels that this will encourage more people to participate in lawsuits.

The new system would also institute new safeguards to prevent plaintiffs from filing frivolous lawsuits. These include prohibiting plaintiffs from paying contingency fees to lawyers in class-action lawsuits. The new law would also require a judge to certify any claim before it could go to trial.

The new reforms would only apply to competition cases. However, lawmakers could consider extending them to other cases in future years if they are satisfied with the new system.

Court of Appeals Will Allow Television Cameras in Appeals Court

camera in courtroom

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, has said that the court of appeal will be allowing television cameras in the court of appeals.  Justice officials are contemplating the implications of this new change. Senior judges will need to undergo training on the mannerisms they need to use to present themselves on camera.

The government is also considering a new policy that would allow sessions to be filmed in the crown courts as well. However, the chief justice said that he doesn’t support this move. He has warned lawmakers that the government needs to consider that television cameras could discourage many witnesses from testifying in important cases.

Judge said that he doesn’t have a problem with the idea of installing television cameras in the appellate courtrooms. However, he said that the courts need to evaluate the way the way the new process works and ensure it doesn’t keep the justice system from doing its job.

Judge is due to step down from office this fall. The new system will be implemented the month after he leaves office so he will not play any role in fine-tuning the new system. Judge’s predecessor may have a different opinion on the benefits or concerns that these cameras create.

Justices in other countries have warned that there could be a potential backlash from citizens who either oppose the new system or don’t know how to use it responsibly. New Zealand passed similar laws in the past year. Andrew Bridgman, the chief justice in New Zealand, has warned that many demonstrators have help protests in response to the decision to install television cameras in the courts.

Judge admits that there are some potential concerns associated with the use of cameras, but he thinks there are more pressing issues at hand, the biggest concern being the government cut in legal aid benefits.

Author Bio:

Allan Barnard is a Senior Claims Adviser at www.compensationclaims.co, a Manchester based Claims Management Company, who specialise in no win no fee personal injury claims.

Tax Crackdowns on London Lawyers

HMRC

Just last year, tax inspectors in the UK have begun their crackdown on lawyers for tax evasion yielding at an amount of £ 3 million. According to HM Revenue and Customs, the Legal Profession in London is one of the high risk sectors that will undergo intensive scrutiny. These specialists will be visited by inspectors on their premises and go through all records and make the necessary investigations.

According to the HMRC, the effort could raise a total of £19.5 million. Many other industries are being checked for tax evasion cases across the UK such as grocery stores, beauty businesses, restaurants, and motor trades. Experts believed that the immediate crackdown of the HMRC against these possible tax evaders prove that they might have substantial evidence. Normally, the HMRC would have created awareness campaigns and more conservative efforts, but the gravity of the situation might have led them to make bolder decisions.

The crackdowns in the past years reveal that many other industries and professions have numerous professionals who do not pay enough taxes each year. In fact, in 2010, the crackdown on dentists and doctors raised around £10 million based on voluntary disclosures while additional three million has been generated after further analysis. Lawyers, therefore, are now being checked to ensure that those who are expected to follow the law are actually fighting a worthy cause or if they themselves are just lost in translation on their understanding of the law.

Taxation laws are quite stringent in the UK and even so, some professional still are not able to pay their taxes. Nevertheless, the efforts generated by the HMRC prove that there are so many industries that do not comply with the laws pertaining to paying taxes and they still have to pay their dues even if they seem to have gone past the radar in the past.

This article was provided by Allan Barnard, who is a Senior Claims Adviser at www.compensationclaims.co.

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