Last update11:11:03 AM GMT
The troubled Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across the South of England, found itself in the spotlight again last month – twice. Early in the month the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced that the trust would be prosecuted in relation to an incident in December 2015, when a patient fell from a low roof at a hospital in Winchester.
Later, on 16 March, the trust’s remaining four non-executive directors resigned – the fifth had resigned earlier in the month. The shake-up follows a prolonged scandal last year surrounding failures to investigate deaths of patients in its care and the subsequent prolonged resistance on the part of its chief executive to calls for her resignation.
An interim chair, appointed to oversee improvements, is due to complete his appointment in July, after which a new board will take over.
The CQC has also been busy completing its first round of inspections of all the acute non-specialist and specialist trusts and has produced a report detailing its findings.
Solicitors and other professionals involved in cases concerning clients who have suffered from catastrophic injuries can hear from a range of experts at a special one day conference.
Durham-based EMG Solicitors’ annual conference has brought together a number of top speakers who will be sharing their knowledge at the Managing and Improving Your Catastrophic Injury Caseload event on Wednesday 26 April 2017.
The conference – now in its third year – is renowned for bringing together a number of respected professionals who will talk on a range of related and relevant topics during both group and seminar sessions.
The event is being held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Leeds city centre, enabling attendees and speakers from across the north and south to attend.
Among the speakers will be Emma Gaudern of EMG Solicitors (pictured), widely regarded for her expertise as a Court of Protection deputy, who will be leading a discussion on deputyship costs claimed in a special damages schedule.
A scandal has arisen involving a company providing blood testing services after two workers from its Manchester lab were bailed following allegations that data was falsified.
The company, Randox Testing Services (RTS), provides testing services to police forces across the UK.
The affair came to light after the results of a test carried out by Randox were challenged by lawyer Nick Freeman, dubbed by the press ‘Mr Loophole’. Mr Freeman’s client, a 26-year-old Chester man, had been arrested in December 2015 on suspicion of drug driving. He gave a blood sample which was sent to Randox for analysis.
The results claimed to show the driver was not only over the prescribed limit for cannabis, but his blood also tested positive for traces of cocaine and another drug, which the defendant disputed.
Mr Freeman said: “We asked our expert to look at the Randox report. He identified a number of analytical issues that affected the reliability of the results.”
Two environmental charities – Friends of the Earth and the RSPB – and the environmental law firm ClientEarth have started legal proceedings against the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to challenge what they believe to be unlawful new costs rules for environmental cases.
The new rules, brought in on 28 February, weaken financial protection for people bringing a case, meaning they face unspecified legal costs in return for going to court to protect the environment.
A costs cap of £5,000 for claims brought by individuals and £10,000 for those brought by organisations and public bodies, introduced in 2013, has been lifted for environmental judicial reviews brought under the Aarhus Convention in England and Wales.
A leading academic known for his investigative work into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster has been named as a keynote speaker at this year's British Society of Criminology (BSC) Conference.
Professor Phil Scraton, criminologist and author from Queen's University Belfast, will be a plenary speaker at the UK's most prestigious criminology conference, which this year is being held at Sheffield Hallam University (July 4 - 7).
The conference, titled 'Forging Social Justice: Local Challenges, Global Complexities', is expected to attract hundreds of practitioners, policy makers, academics and students from the criminology community across the world.
New Government proposals for fixing legal fees in medical negligence cases have been given a cautious welcome by lawyers.
The proposals, currently out to consultation, are for a fixed cap on all clinical negligence cases up to £25,000. The aim, says the Department of Health, is to prevent rising litigation costs within the NHS. Currently, there is no limit on legal costs that can be recouped. It is expected the new cap will save the NHS up to £45m a year.
The department cites an instance where costs of £83,000 were claimed for a case in which the patient was awarded £1,000. The total bill for the NHS was £1.5bn in the financial year 2015-16.
Announcing the proposals, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said: “It’s important that, when significant mistakes happen in the NHS, patients are able to have an open dialogue with a trust about what went wrong, receive reassurance of what is being learnt and can discuss what form of recompense or redress may be appropriate. Legal action should only be one part of this process.
On 14 March the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter, launched a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.
The strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community, to enable system operators to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations – such as those contained in the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act.
In a statement, the commissioner’s office said: “It is the commissioner’s strategic vision to ensure the public are assured that any use of surveillance camera systems in a public place helps to protect and keep them safe, while respecting the individual’s right to privacy. That assurance is based upon deployment which is proportionate to a legitimate purpose, and transparency which demonstrates compliance with best and good practice and relevant legal obligations.
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published a new Users’ Guide to Adjudication, which replaces the previous guide from the Construction Umbrella Bodies Adjudication Task Group, produced in 2003.
Since its introduction in the late 1990s, adjudication has come to dominate alternative dispute resolution in the construction industry. Adjudication was envisaged as a process that construction companies could use with or without external professional assistance.
Over the years many novice users turned to the original Users’ Guide to Adjudication, to understand how adjudication works and to decide if it was a process that would help them.
The hope is that the new guide will assist both those who wish to take a dispute to adjudication and those who have received a notice of adjudication.
Last year, amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act were introduced under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Recently, sentencing under those amendments came into force. The new laws extend both the scope of the Act and where offences can be committed.
According to pet information exchange Pets4Homes: "The original law effectively bans ownership of four breeds of dog within the UK - the Fila Brasileiro, the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa and the Pit Bull Terrier.
"However, it also covers the process in law to govern what happens to any dog of any breed that is considered to pose a risk to people, and this is something that not all dog owners are aware of."
Last November a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution was formally launched. The group is an initiative of various members of the ADR community, including the secretary of the Civil Mediation Council Iain Christie, Bar Council ADR panel member John Pugh-Smith and parliamentarians Bob Neill MP and John Howell MP.
The objective of the group is to ‘change the climate and culture of dispute resolution in the UK’. The group has set out an ambitious programme of meetings designed to promote awareness of effective dispute resolution processes and how they might be integrated more comprehensively into the system of dispute resolution in the UK to ensure it is meeting current and future needs.
In recent issues of Your Expert Witness we have highlighted the on-going issue of unqualified people carrying out illegal tooth whitening – and the efforts being made by the General Dental Council (GDC) to bring offenders to book. Since the last issue highlighted a case in Wales there have been prosecutions in Orpington, Salford and London.
At the end of last year the legal position on tooth whitening of the GDC received the backing of the organisation that brings together all European dental regulators. FEDCAR – the Federation of European Dental Competent Authorities and Regulators – published a statement endorsing its approach as the one to be used across Europe.