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Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme

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If you are thinking about writing your will, you will find that you are faced with an increasing number of options. Although, traditionally, will-drafting has been the role of solicitors, now there are many other will-writing companies being established that offer the same service. But what is the difference and how should you choose between these competing options?

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Effect of Post-dismissal Conduct

If you are unfortunate enough to have been involved in a workplace dispute, you may have found yourself in the employment tribunal. But have you ever considered how your conduct after leaving your job may after the tribunal’s decision? As set out below, the Employment Appeal Tribunal have recently ruled that your actions post-dismissal can affect the tribunal award you receive, even if those actions are totally unrelated to your employment dispute.Unfair dismissal awardsAs the name suggests, in cases of unfair dismissal, the employee must prove two elements: (i) that they were dismissed, and (ii) that the dismissal was unfair. Although you might think it would be obvious when an employee is dismissed and when they are not, it is often not so simple. For example, if an employee resigns, it may amount to a “forced resignation”.Alternatively, what seems like a resignation may be a “constructive dismissal,” where the employer’s actions have made the employment relationship untenable. As for unfairness, a dismissal may be unfair for a multitude of substantive or procedural reasons.If the tribunal concludes that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, it will move on to consider the award. The award will include a basic award, which is dependent upon the employee’s length of employment and salary, and the compensatory award.The compensatory award seeks to put the employee in the position they would have been in had they not been unfairly dismissed. Therefore, it may include a claim for past and future loss of earnings, loss of pension, and other employment rights. In a recent unfair dismissal case, it was the award for loss of pension that was at issue.Bates v Cumbria County CouncilThe employee, Mr Bates, was a religious studies teacher in a secondary school, and had been dismissed for misconduct. The incident was one of several conflicts between Mr Bates and the headmistress, such as the head requesting an occupational health report without his consent following a period of sick leave.The disciplinary panel, comprised of four school governors, dismissed Mr Bates for accessing a dating website for 15 seconds during a class, as well as lack of lesson planning. However, the hearing also involved a number of other unfounded allegations. When Mr Bates sought to appeal the decision, the school failed to provide him with evidence of how other teachers had been treated previously in similar circumstances.The employment tribunal ruled that Mr Bates had been unfairly dismissed, stating that the head had been “seeking to throw as much mud at [Mr Bates] as she could in the hope that some of this would stick." Although his award was reduced by 15% as a result of his own actions, Mr Bates was awarded £70,925, including a sum in lieu of the loss of his pension.However, following the decision of the tribunal, Mr Bates was convicted for common assault and sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment. In light of this, the local authority and the school appealed against the tribunal ruling. They argued that Mr Bates would have been dismissed when he received a criminal conviction and, therefore, he would not have suffered a sizeable loss of pension anyway. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the school, reducing the award.If you would like advice about bringing or defending a claim for unfair dismissal, or any other area of employment law, please contact San Chima at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Low-value Personal Injury Pre-Action Protocols

As a result of widespread advertising by claims management companies, you are probably aware that you can receive compensation for injuries that were not your fault. However, you may not be aware of the protocols you must follow when bringing such claims.In particular, there are specific pre-action protocols for low-value personal injury claims arising from road-traffic accidents (“the RTA protocol”), as well as those against your employer and public bodies (“the EL/PL protocol”). However, recently, the government has made various changes to the fixed legal costs for such claims.ProtocolsThe protocols help both to make sure that simple, low-value cases are dealt with in the most efficient way, and to avoid spiralling legal costs. Both protocols state that they aim to avoid the need for the claimant to start formal proceedings, ensure that “damages are paid within a reasonable time” and “the claimant’s legal representative receives the fixed costs at each appropriate stage”.As of 31 July 2013, all claims for £25,000 or less must follow the protocols (the threshold was previously £10,000). There are three stages to each protocol, and there are fixed legal costs associated with each stage.At stage one, the claimant sends a completed claim notification form to the defendant and their insurer, and should receive a response within 15 days (car insurers), 30 days (employers), or 40 days (public bodies). If the defendant admits liability, the claim will generally continue to stage two, but if the defendant denies liability, the claim will exit the protocol.At stage two, the claimant sends a “settlement pack” to the defendant, including any medical reports and witness statements, giving the defendant 35 days to consider the claim and make an offer of settlement. The claimant can also request an interim payment at this stage. If the parties cannot agree a settlement at stage two, the claim will progress to stage three, where a court will make a decision.CostsIf the defendant admits liability at stage one, he will pay the fixed costs associated that stage. Similarly, the defendant will pay the fixed costs associated with stage two, since liability must be admitted for claims to reach that stage. Therefore, the costs for stages one and two should be included in any settlement figure.If the claim reaches stage three, the defendant will only pay costs associated with that stage if the claimant is awarded an amount greater than any offer made by the defendant at stage two. If the award is equal or less than any offer, the claimant will pay the stage three costs. This prevents the claimant from unnecessarily refusing the defendant’s offers at stage two.ChangesIn April 2013, the government lowered the fixed costs payable for claims under £10,000 from £400 to £200 at stage one, and from £800 to £300 at stage two. Claims brought on or after 31 July 2013 with a value of between £10,000 and £25,000 must also now follow the protocols. The costs for these claims are fixed at £200 for stage one, and £600 for stage two. The maximum costs at stage three for any claim are £500 (or £650 if the claimant is a child).If you would like advice about costs in low-value personal injury claims, or about any other area of personal injury law, please contact San Chima at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Liability for Personal Injury

Liability for personal injury usually arises from a claim in negligence. For example, a person may bring a claim against their employer for injuries suffered at work (“employers’ liability”), against another business for injuries caused by one of their employees (“vicarious liability”), or against a public authority for injuries sustained in a public place (“public liability”).Duty of careThe first step in a negligence claim is to show that the other party owed you a duty of care. The second part is then to prove that they breached that duty. Therefore, decisions about whether or not to impose a duty of care are crucial in determining whether or not you can succeed in your claim.Although statute sometimes imposes a duty of care, such as the duty to ensure visitors are “reasonably safe” on your premises under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, most duties are imposed by the common law (i.e. case law).Common law testIn Caparo Industries Plc. v Dickman,Lord Bridge set out clear guidelines for when the courts can impose a duty on the Defendant (D) to take care of the Victim (V). Three elements must be satisfied: (i) some damage to V must be reasonably foreseeable, (ii) D and V must be “sufficiently proximate”, and (iii) it must be just and reasonable to impose such a duty.In practice, this means that you do not generally owe a duty of care for injuries due to acts of nature, since they are not reasonable foreseeable. In addition, the police do not generally owe a duty of care to random members of the public, since they are not sufficiently proximate, and voluntary organisations do not generally owe a duty of care to their clients, as it would not be just and reasonable.Poole v Wright and othersIn a recent personal injury case, the High Court ruled that neither of the defendants, Chequered Flag Karting Ltd. and Mr Abbott, owed a duty of care to the claimant, Ms Poole. In making the decision, the judge considered all three elements of the Caparo test set out by Lord Bridge.The facts of the case were that Ms Poole had been injured using a go-kart belonging to Mr Abbott, and which Ms Poole claimed he had bought from Chequered Flag Karting Ltd. Along with several other friends, they had taken the kart to drive around in a car park. However, when it came to Ms Poole’s turn, her scarf became wound around the rear axle of the kart, tightening around her neck and causing her severe spinal injuries.Reasons for decisionMrs Justice Swift decided that the karting company did not owe a duty of care to Ms Poole. This was, firstly, because the kart was not owned by Chequered Flag Karting, but was sold privately by the company’s directors. In addition, the judge ruled that the directors did not owe a duty of care, failing all three elements of the test. In particular, the directors did not owe a duty to Ms Poole as a future user of the kart, as she was not sufficiently proximate. Moreover, the judge also decided that the company would not have been responsible for the directors’ actions in any event.The judge also ruled that Mr Abbott did not owe a duty of care to Ms Poole. Although he may have owed a duty to point out any “hidden defect” in the kart, Mrs Justice Swift concluded that the moving parts at the rear of the kart were obvious to everyone, including Ms Poole. Nevertheless, the risk of injury was not reasonably foreseeable at the time Ms Poole began driving the kart, since her scarf was not trailing or loose. Moreover, in her own words:“the imposition of a duty of care in circumstances such as these, where leisure equipment is provided by an individual in a social setting for the enjoyment of other adults without any form of reward, would not in my view be fair or reasonable.”If you would like advice about the merits of a personal injury claim, or about any other area of personal injury law, please contact San Chima at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Legal Needs of Small Businesses

In order to keep up with the changing needs of small businesses, the legal world also needs to adapt. Given the recent recession, traditional solicitors’ work, such as conveyancing and probate, has not been in such great demand. Along with every other player in the UK economy, law firms have been forced to consider how they can best serve their existing clients, and how to generate new areas of business.In light of this, the Legal Services Board conducted research into the legal needs of small businesses. In May 2013, the findings were published in a report titled, “In Need of Advice? Findings of a Small Business Legal Needs Benchmarking Survey”. Some of the findings are detailed below.ReportThe report analyses the survey responses from 9,703 small businesses (fewer than 50 employees). Of those, 4,389 (45%) were single-person businesses, 4,266 (44%) were micro businesses (2 to 9 employees), and 1,048 (11%) were other small businesses (10 to 49 employees).There are around 4.8 million private sector and 81,000 not-for-profit enterprises in the UK, and around 99% of these are small businesses. Therefore, this sample of 9,703 represents a huge section of the UK economy, which generates one third of the turnover and accounts for one half of the jobs outside the public sector.The findings detailed in the report are broadly categorised into small businesses’ experience of legal problems, the impact of those problems, and the response of that business.Legal issuesOne point of note is that a large proportion of small businesses do, in fact, encounter legal issues. During the 12-month study alone, 38% of the small businesses experienced at least one legal problem. Moreover, it seems that the larger the business, the more likely it is that legal issues will arise, with 77% of businesses with 10 to 49 employees facing legal issues.The impact of these problems was also extensive. 45% of legal problems were reported to have had a tangible effect on the business, with the mean cost of problems being £6,700 (and the median cost being £1,200). Across the UK as a whole, the Legal Services Board estimates that the annual loss to small businesses as a result of legal issues could be in excess of £100 billion.Business responsesIn fact, very few small businesses were equipped to deal with these issues themselves. Only 6.4% employed a qualified lawyer, and only 9.1% had retainer agreements for legal services. Nevertheless, the businesses surveyed opted to deal with the issue themselves in 52% of cases. 29% obtained some form of independent legal advice, but only 14% chose to seek out a solicitor or barrister.This final statistic does not appear so surprising given that only 13% of small businesses agreed that “lawyers provide a cost effective means to resolve legal issues”, with 45% disagreeing. It would be interesting to find out how many of this 13% were also among those that had taken advice from a solicitor or barrister.Clearly, however, the Legal Services Board, and the legal profession as a whole, has a lot to do to change how it is perceived by small businesses, and possibly then to begin to better meet the legal needs of those businesses.If you would like legal advice in relation to any legal issues faced by your small business, please contact Salim Mansoor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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