Monday, April 14, 2014

Book recommendation: RTA Allegations of Fraud in a post-Jackson Era: the Handbook by Andrew Mckie

A practical, concise and easy to read handbook dealing with allegations of fraud in personal injury RTA cases. From LVI to alleged staged accidents, this book covers all the main fraud topics including relevant cases, law and practical guidance that can be used by both junior and more senior fee earners in day-to-day practice in this complex and evolving area of law. Andrew Mckie is a Barrister at Clerksroom Manchester specialising in claimant and defendant personal injury, with a particular interest in cases involving alleged fraud and credit hire. He was called to the Bar in 2011 and before that was an Associate Solicitor and Solicitor Advocate. Before qualifying as a barrister, Andrew had over six years of advocacy experience as a Solicitor. He worked for a number of leading firms and dealt with both RTA fraud and credit hire and worked for both claimant and defendant firms. Most recently, he was the Head of Litigation and In-House Solicitor Advocate at a claimant personal injury and credit hire firm. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book recommendation: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

A gloriously witty novel from Sebastian Faulks using P.G. Wodehouse's much-loved characters, Jeeves and Wooster, fully authorised by the Wodehouse estate. Bertie Wooster, recently returned from a very pleasurable soujourn in Cannes, finds himself at the stately home of Sir Henry Hackwood in Dorset. Bertie is more than familiar with the country house set-up: he is a veteran of the cocktail hour and, thanks to Jeeves, his gentleman's personal gentleman, is never less than immaculately dressed. On this occasion, however, it is Jeeves who is to be seen in the drawing room while Bertie finds himself below stairs - and he doesn't care for it at all. Love, as so often, is at the root of the confusion. Bertie, you see, has met Georgiana on the Côte d'Azur. And though she is clever and he has a reputation for foolish engagements, it looks as though this could be the real thing. However, Georgiana is the ward of Sir Henry Hackwood and, in order to maintain his beloved Melbury Hall, the impoverished Sir Henry has struck a deal that would see Georgiana becoming Mrs Rupert Venables. Meanwhile, Peregrine 'Woody' Beeching, one of Bertie's oldest chums, is desperate to regain the trust of his fiancée Amelia, Sir Henry's tennis-mad daughter. But why would this necessitate Bertie having to pass himself off as a servant when he has never so much as made a cup of tea? Could it be that the ever-loyal, Spinoza-loving Jeeves has an ulterior motive? Evoking the sunlit days of a time gone by, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is a delightfully witty story of mistaken identity, a midsummer village festival, a cricket match and love triumphant. Available from Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lawyers and Social Media- The Do’s And Don’ts.

Brought to you by our friends at Vannin Capital PCC Ltd

There is little doubt that there are benefits aplenty for the savvy lawyer/law firm who engages with and carefully exploits social media. In short, social media offers cheap and extensive marketing opportunities and as such is a formidable commercial tool. Also social media is an excellent forum for communication with clients and potential clients. Furthermore, social media provides facilities for engaging in professional debate and accessing global and up-to-date legal resources. Additionally, adroit use of social media offers wide legal networking opportunities and a platform from which to raise one’s professional profile. The choice of social media sites is wide: for the purpose of this article the three most pertinent are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Judicious choice of site will be a first do or don’t for the prudent lawyer. From the outset, the modern lawyer/law firm must be aware that use of social media carries potential risks, as well as the aforementioned benefits. An initial risk is that participation in social media can blur the distinction between professional and personal identity. Social media is public by its definition; its contents may well prove to be permanent. Given that such content can be also pernicious and pervasive, it can be a dangerous tool.

Set out below are some basic do’s and don’ts, many of them based on common sense as much as any legal tenets.

The Do’s
  1. Firstly, lawyers should appreciate that professional conduct rules apply to their conduct online. These are clearly set out in the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, which includes a section on the use of social media. This highlights the aspects of a solicitor’s conduct that are most likely to be prejudiced when using social media, and these are integrity, independence and trust. The solicitor-client relationship is a fragile one. Being contacts of friends on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter could easily breach rules governing confidentiality and disclosure. Posting comments and opinions could cause conflict of interest and damage trust and confidence, leading to disputes over defamation and privacy issues. The best advice here is to read the SRA guidelines carefully and to follow them exactly.
  2. There are some fundamental, practical common sense rules that are to be followed when using any social media. These include using safe passwords, remembering to log out, having good back up systems, protecting and safe filing of client information and investing in good security systems that are anti-viral.
  3. Another essential safeguard for the law firm or lawyer planning to use social media, is to plan that use carefully. Initial questions to be asked include, what are the practice’s legal and commercial objectives? Who will direct and manage the social media operations? (The advice here is to have strong professional direction, both external and in-house.) Policies about use, and penalties for misuse, of social media should be clear and communicated to all staff.
  4. Where legal blogs are to be set up, access routes to them will be crucial. Lawyers writing such blogs should be careful to protect client’s and colleague’s confidentiality. Naming of clients and cases should be avoided. Content should be topical and informative. Care should be taken to make clear disclaimers that legal advice is not being offered, only personal opinions and interpretations. Most will be written in the personal voice (I) to make this clear. To provoke debate and a wide following they may need to be controversial as well as topical.
  5. The best overall advice is to be professional and do everything to ensure high standards. These standards will extend to accuracy of information, spelling and grammar. Politeness, respect and courtesy should be maintained at all times. Avoidance of personal criticisms, sarcasm and inflammatory statements is the rule. Ill-thought, knee-jerk and emotive statements could lead to further claims. So use social media cautiously and responsibly and minimise the risks.

The Don’ts

These are just the antithesis of the do’s, so are much shorter, and all are best avoided.
  1. Don’t breach any of the SRA on professional conduct.
  2. Don’t do anything that would jeopardise client confidentiality and client care.
  3. Don’t breach rules on disclosure.
  4. Don’t befriend clients on social media sites.
  5. Don’t talk to or about clients cases.
  6. Don’t breach any marketing-related rules on professional conduct.
  7. Don’t give legal advice on social media sites.
  8. Don’t use social media if you haven’t considered the potential risks and pitfalls. Not only could it be professionally damaging, it will also be time-consuming. Finally, remember, bad publicity is worse than no publicity.
  9. Do not put anything on social media if there is anyone, anywhere, anytime (the future can be a very long time) who you would not want to see it. 
  10. Don’t say anything you might be ashamed of, or later regret.
This article was written on behalf of Vannin Capital. Visit the site today to learn about Litigation Funding uk.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book recommendation: Solo: A James Bond Novel by William Boyd

It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge. A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors. Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book recommendation: Just Law by Helena Kennedy

Acute, questioning, humane and passionately concerned for justice, Helena Kennedy is one of the most powerful voices in legal circles in Britain today. Here she roundly challenges the record of modern governments over the fundamental values of equality, fairness and respect for human dignity. She argues that in the last twenty years we have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties, culminating today in extraordinary legislation, which undermines long established freedoms. Are these moves a crude political response to demands for law and order? Or is the relationship between citizens and the state being covertly reframed and redefined? Available from Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health and Safety Executive Reveals Mistakes That Small Businesses Make In Compliance Attempts

Brought to you by our friends at Concierge Legal Services Ltd

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently issued a news release directed to small business owners and their employees. The press release aims to target those companies who are incorrectly dealing with health and safety within their organisations. Some measures taken by companies have been deemed as “bizarre and unnecessary” by HSE, and they have published a few examples to help other businesses to figure out how to properly comply with health and safety.

What have small businesses been doing wrong?
The fact that businesses are trying to comply with health and safety laws and guidelines is of course to be commended, but time and money can be wasted by doing it incorrectly. After carrying out a survey, HSE shared that one business “completed a risk assessment for using a tape measure” and another “introduced written guidelines for walking up stairs”.

How can these mistakes be rectified?
HSE recommends that small and medium sized employers use its free online tools and guidance. They have a section online called H&S ABC which is designed to be an easy guide for getting the basics right. The idea is that business owners will be able to achieve the right level of risk management, as it seems that many are unsure as to what this should be. In line with this theory, nearly a third of small businesses have said that they are “aware they have to take some action but unsure where to start or if what they are doing is correct.”

What myths can be avoided?
Some companies just follow the advice of others, meaning they can end up doing things wrong - kind of like copying off someone’s test paper at school only to find out you could have done it better yourself. Common myths include needing to hire a specialist consultant when it comes to health and safety; one in five people believed they were not capable of managing this themselves and sourced an external person to help. Eleven percent of people who answered the HSE survey thought that they needed a qualified electrician to test appliances including kettles and toasters each and every year - this isn’t actually necessary.

Next steps for small businesses
Kate Haire of HSEs small business team says: “Health and safety is all about taking steps to manage serious risks of ill-health and injury in the workplace” - and also provides procedures for business when accidents at work happen. She continued by saying: “If something sounds completely unreasonable, more often than not it will be totally unnecessary too.”

The National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Allan, spoke on the topic, saying: “The fear factor forces many businesses to adopt unnecessary health and safety procedures which costs time and money.”

To avoid these problems in the future, more research should be done by business owners to clarify what is needed, and what isn’t. Of course, the HSE website is a good place to start, including the resource at