Book Recommendation: Tales from the Courtroom

Court-room dramas hold an endless fascination, but they are often a pale shadow of the real thing. Consider for example the case of the young man who, after being acquitted of his girlfriend’s murder, was challenged by the dead girl’s brother in a procedure which had not been used since the middle ages. It failed, but the facts of the case were recalled over a century later by another tragedy, which eerily mirrored them. Or the case of the vicar’s son convicted of cattle mutilation who was cleared, not as a result of diligent police work, but by the creator of England’s most famous fictional detective. This book contains a number of ‘unsolved mysteries’, like the murder of a magistrate which nearly ended the career, even the life, of Samuel Pepys. Other curiosities concern the quaint rules by which pirates were once bound and Parliament’s continuing concern for outlaws’ rights. Even the foggier crannies of the law can offer up their amusements, like the rhyming will which was put up for probate and the extraordinary story of how the law of cremation was reformed by an eccentric Welsh doctor and a Hindu ex-soldier. Told by a retired barrister, the tales in this book illustrate the role of the law in resisting oppression, whether from robber barons or modern governments. Selected for their intrinsic interest, the tales highlight lessons concerning the nature of justice and the diversity – sometimes the unknowability - of human conduct.

Available from Amazon


Mental Health and Medical Negligence

Brought to you by our friends at Pryers Solicitors

Mental health patients are more vulnerable than other patients in that they tend to see a wider range of specialists – GPs, counsellors, mental health practitioners, psychiatrists, social workers and hospital staff. Because they see a wider range of specialists, unfortunately, it is more likely that something will slip through the net. Because individuals with mental health problems may also have difficulty in communicating, this can make them even more vulnerable. Although every patient in the country is entitled to the same standard of care, regardless of their mental health status, occasionally the standard of their care can fall below par.

Mental health patients are already very vulnerable, and if the duty of care towards them fails – for example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a serious mental illness, if a psychiatrist fails to use the appropriate techniques to help the patient cope with their illness, if a hospital worker fails to detain a seriously mentally ill patient or if a GP fails to prescribe the right medication for a mentally ill patient. In all of these situations, the medical professional failed in their duty of care towards the patient and therefore, a medical negligence claim can be made.

When it comes to the care of mentally ill patients, doctors have to be especially sensitive in their duty of care. Because mentally ill individuals are more vulnerable, if someone fails in their duty of care towards them, this could lead to a serious deterioration of their mental health and in severe situations, this could lead to self-harm, suicide or even to the patient harming others. It could also lead to the development of a different mental health condition, or to the worsening of an existing mental health condition which could cause a secondary condition. For example, if a patient has schizophrenia, but this fails to be diagnosed or it goes untreated, this could lead to depression.

In this situation, in order to successfully make a claim, the claimant must be able to prove that the worsening of their condition (or the condition of the person that they are making the claim on behalf of) was directly caused by the negligence of the medical practitioner – and that their condition would not have worsened naturally without the intervention of the doctor. If an individual with mental health problems died as a direct result of medical negligence, it may be that someone else can make a claim for compensation on their behalf – for example, their husband or wife, or their mother or father.

If you want more information about mental health and making a claim for medical negligence, speak to a solicitor specialising in medical negligence claims.

Dental Negligence Claim Time Limits

Brought to you by our friends at Axiclaim

If you've had substandard dental care, or if your dentist or dental nurse has been negligent in their care towards you, resulting in an injury or the contraction of an illness or a disease, you might well be able to make a claim for compensation – as long as you can prove that the injury, illness or disease you are suffering from would not have otherwise occurred without the intervention of your dentist or dental nurse. However, there is a strict time limit when it comes to dental negligence claims within the UK, and it's very rare that that time limit is extended.

Statute of Limitations
In the UK, the Statute of Limitations was introduced in 1980. This legislation was imposed so that the individual seeking to make a claim had the best possible chance of proving negligence, and so that the individual that the claim is being made against (dentist, dental nurse, doctor) could have the best possible chance of proving that their actions were not negligent. In most cases, this time limit is non-negotiable.

Time Limit
The time limit for dental negligence claims within the UK is three years. This means that you have three years from the date that the injury was first sustained, or three years from the date that you were diagnosed with an illness or disease. However, if you didn't know that you had sustained an injury for a number of months until after you had sustained it, the time limit actually starts on the date that you first knew about the injury. The issue with this is that you may well have to work a little bit harder to prove that you didn't know about the injury at an earlier date.

Are There Any Exceptions?
The only exceptions to this three year time limit are children and mentally incapacitated adults. For children, the three years time limit starts on the date of their 18th birthday, meaning that they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim – this only applies, however, if they are making the claim on their own behalf. If their injury, illness or disease was particularly severe, a parent can make a claim on their child's behalf in order to claim compensation for their child's care. If the child doesn't need the money immediately, it will be put into a trust fund for them to get access to when they turn 18.
The only other exception to the rule is mentally incapacitated adults. If they are unable to make a claim for themselves, the three year time limit may never apply. In general, the adult will have three years from the date that they are able to think for themselves to make a claim. However, a parent or a carer can make a claim on behalf of the adult if the compensation is needed for their ongoing care.

If you have any questions about dental negligence time limits, speak to a dental negligence solicitor for more information.


Protecting Your Reputation Online - Tips from Stephens Scown Solicitors

Brought to you by our friends at Stephens Scown Solicitors

Your website is your new shop front. It is your window to the world. Just like your real world assets, it comes with responsibilities and obligations. While most businesses in the tourism industry are used to the benefits of operating a website, they often overlook the legal obligations which go hand-in-hand with owning a website.

Consumers are using the web more and more. This is great for business but at the same time web users are becoming increasingly savvy of their rights when surfing the web and booking holidays online. More and more people are realising that real world laws apply to their activities online and this has an impact for those businesses that trade in the online world.

Increasing awareness on the part of the public of issues such as online privacy, cookies, the Advertising Standards Authority’s online powers, consumer rights and a website’s owner’s liability for user generated content means that the legal compliance of websites is a bigger issue now than ever before.

Navigating the raft of relevant legislation can be tricky. That is why we have introduced a straightforward range of fixed fee packages to help you on your journey to compliance. Our fixed fee solutions will help you to avoid infringements of the Data Protection Act, to comply with the new legislation on cookies, to avoid liability for content posted to your site by users and to comply with your obligations to provide users with certain information about the business behind your website. We can also help you with your brand protection, again on a fixed fee basis.

To help you on the road to compliance, Stephens Scown Solicitors have put forward a list of top tips for protecting your reputation online:

1. Register your trade mark. Whether it is your company name, domain name or the name of a hotel, we strongly recommend that you register your key trading names. A registration is a powerful tool which creates a monopoly and greatly increases your options in the event that somebody else misuses your brand or sets up using a similar or identical brand. Note that not all marks can be registered, but we are happy to give you a steer on this on a free, no obligation consultation.

2. Take responsibility for the content on your site. Make sure that the ownership of all the content on your site can be traced. Do you have permission to use it? Make sure you control user generated content as well, because you will be liable for this.

3. Comply with the Advertising Standards Authority’s codes. Ensure that all statements on your website are honest and, where capable of being proven, you have the evidence to hand. Statements which are capable of being proven include statements such as “we are the best hotel in Devon”. Ensure also that all social media posts made by employees are clearly indicated so that users can tell that they are a form of advertising.

4. Make your terms engaging. People booking a holiday do not want to read reams of small font legalese. Make your terms bold and upfront. Ensure they reflect the ethos of your business. Booking a holiday is an exciting activity and there is no reason why your terms should not engage with your user in the same way that the rest of your website does. Consider also using your terms as a selling tool: you can highlight the types of services which are not covered and offer them as a bolt-on. Finally, do not hide your terms and conditions – if they are not prominent enough, they probably will not bite.

5. Cancellations. Many online reputational issues arise from the way businesses deal with cancellations of customer bookings. Remember that you have a duty to mitigate your loss: can you rebook the accommodation? Be wary also of penalty clauses (e.g. non-refundable deposits). Remember that you can only retain the profit element of cancelled bookings.

6. Comply with the Distance Selling Regulations, if you sell goods. Make sure you are clear about prices, who the seller is, timescales of delivery etc. Also, remember that consumers can return many goods for no reason and be entitled to a refund.

7. Conduct a cookie audit. If you are using cookies, make sure you provide people with a mechanism to opt into receiving cookies before they are installed and ensure you provide details of all cookies in your privacy policy. The legislation on the use of cookies changed recently and whether or not you are complying is immediately obvious to web users.

8. Your web designer probably owns the copyright in your website. Check your agreements with any third party that created your website for you. Unless those agreements expressly, in writing, assign copyright in the website (including computer code, text or images on the same) to you then the third party that created those materials will continue to own them and you are only using them with their permission. If this is the case, you should attempt to get a formal assignment in place as soon as possible. Otherwise, if the developer ceases trading or withdraws their permission, you could find your website switched off overnight.

9. Use website terms and conditions of use on your site. These create a contract between you and visitors to your website. They control what visitors can and cannot do whilst at your site. They can be a fantastic tool in helping you gain control of who links to your site, how you link to other people’s site and creating remedies in the event that people post malicious comments or take images or text from your site.