Personal Injury Law: Since the Abolition of Legal Aid

Personal Injury LawIn 1998, a decision was made that was seen as very controversial at the time – to abolish the right to legal aid in personal injury law cases. This eventually came into effect in 2000. The main reason this cut-off was deemed necessary was because an average of 700,000 claimants a year in this area of law alone meant that the cost to the public purse was soaring out of control.

Bureaucracy seemed to have a role to play in this abolition too, with many successful claimants finding that once they had covered the statutory payments that were required to settle all costs, there was very little in the way of compensation left for them. It would seem that the claimant was getting a far better deal if they lost, as in these circumstances legal aid would cover all applicable costs. Moreover, this scheme was seen as being completely inflexible.

Negligence – If You Thought You Have Had a Bad Day!

NegligenceWhen you think of serious negligence cases, you might consider road traffic accidents, accidents at work or careless professional advice. What would not necessarily come to mind would be someone tripping on his or her shoelaces and causing a spectacular amount of damage.

Nick Flynn, who admitted to having a “Norman Wisdom moment”, managed to bump into three 17th century vases, reducing them to a jumble of broken porcelain. The accident occurred at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The antique vases were from the Qing dynasty, and the largest of the three was 32 inches tall and weighed nearly 100 pounds. With an estimated value of between £200,000 and £300,000, this was a serious incident by anyone’s standards.

More Clarity for Assisted Suicide Law

Suicide LawEarlier this year we covered the law surrounding assisted suicide, and at that time we did state that more definite clarity was required for people who wanted their loved ones to accompany them on trips abroad. The Suicide Act 1961 already clearly states that if anyone aids, abets, counsels or procures someone else’s suicide, they could face a term of imprisonment of up to 14 years. Therefore we are all aware of how the law works with regards to this country; however, it was how this Act of Parliament would extend to cover people travelling to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland that everyone was keen to ascertain.

Five Tips to Improve Your Internet Research Skills

Internet Research SkillsConducting research on the Internet can prove to be either a gold mine, rich with nuggets of knowledge and information, or a mine field littered with stretched truths and dead ends. Which of these two you experience depends on how you go about your research, where and how you look for information, and how you organise it when you find it.

Here are five top tips to make your research easier, more accurate and more effective.

1. Know your sources.

Dealing with Complaints

Dealing with complaintsWhile we all like to think that we meet our clients' needs and that our quality of service is tip-top, there are still occasions when our clients disagree!  In the current climate, clients have become very choosy, and feel more confident to say when they are not happy with something.  So before it gets to the stage where we start to look foolish, lose our clients or they take matters further, here are some helpful tips for dealing with complaints:

1. Let the client have their say.  When someone is angry or upset it is helpful for them to have the opportunity to "let off steam".  It also indicates to the client that you are willing to take the time to listen.

Where There is a Will, There is a Way

A review of recent problems in relation to wills, succession and inheritance

In recent years a number of concerning trends have developed in the area of wills and probate. In this article we will consider the latest figures on estate planning in England and Wales. We will also look at the impact untrained and unregulated will writers are having on this area of legal practice.

Will and Estate Planning

The people of England and Wales are surprisingly complacent about the importance of making a will. A recent survey revealed that only 41 percent of the adult population have an up-to-date will. In addition, about one-third of people who responded to the survey said they had no intention of ever making a will. Fiona Woolf, former president of the Law Society, neatly summed up the importance of making a will:

The Twitter Phenomenon

TwitterEvery year it seems some new technology emerges from the depths of the Internet and spreads through our culture like some great bushfire. The late nineties saw the birth of services such as Geocities, Hotmail, Google and eBay, followed by the noughties and the web 2.0 social networking explosion. Suddenly everyone became a blogger, and switched-on, web-savvy youth became micro-celebrities on MySpace. MySpace has now taken a backseat to the mighty Facebook, where people are able to connect friends and family in a way that had never been done before. Long-awaited reunions are no longer left to chance, because sooner or later lost loves and old school friends can be found and added to your Facebook friends list.

The Right to Remain Silent

The Right to Remain SilentBefore the mid-nineties, when suspects were being questioned by the police in relation to an offence, they had a definite right to remain silent. However, this was changed somewhat with the introduction of s.34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Although this statutory provision does not usurp this right altogether, it does set out some fundamental criteria that can be relied upon by a magistrate or jury when they may feel that a defendant should have been more cooperative at the time of the police interview. As a consequence, they can then go on to draw adverse inferences from this silence.

Living with Integrity

Living with IntegrityWhat’s the key to living an authentic life that honours your most important priorities? Living with integrity.

Integrity is a good foundation on which to build our lives. Living with integrity means honouring the morals and standards that we set for ourselves. For example, if you have a standard that says ‘I always tell the truth’, then you should be honest with your boss when he or she asks you to take on extra work when you do not think you’ll have the time to do it. Or if you have to tell clients when there will be a delay in the work that your firm is doing for them, then instead of making up an excuse, you should tell the truth.

How New Laws Are Made

How are new laws made?New laws are needed all the time to reflect the changes in social conventions and what society considers acceptable. The activities or choices of people that may have been intolerable to others 50 years ago may now be widely acceptable, and laws need to evolve to accommodate the changes in society.

Old laws can become outdated and need to be reformed. The Government may bring in new laws in line with its policies, and sometimes new laws need to be made in order to act in accordance with international or European law.