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Young, old and the mentally ill: all are being failed in one way or another

Your Expert Witness blog logoA number of reports have recently suggested that, while there are many experts available to assess the capability or otherwise of individuals in a variety of groups – vulnerable or otherwise – their opinions and advice are often neither sought nor acted upon by those with the authority to decide the fate of such unfortunate individuals.

On 14 August the House of Commons Health Select Committee published the report of its Post-legislative scrutiny of the Mental Health Act 2007, in which the MPs said that the interests of those who rely on mental health services are not sufficiently protected.

Introducing the report, its chair Stephen Dorrell MP said: ““Mental health legislation is designed to protect extremely vulnerable patients but our review has found that many vital safeguards are not working effectively.”

Last Updated on Monday, 19 August 2013 15:54


PI lawyers are alive and well – and in hospital

Your Expert Witness blog logoA lot of words have been written and spoken in the legal press and in Parliament about the plight of a species thought to be in imminent danger of extinction: the personal injury lawyer. Changes to the rules regarding PI claims – particularly with regard to whiplash and legal aid for medical negligence cases – have led to a general feeling of pessimism in the sector.

Now, however, it turns out the PI lawyers are thriving and are to be found in, of all places, hospitals, according to a report in the e-government newsletter and an investigation by Sky News.

According to the report: “Although they have been told to curtail the use of advertisements for law firms specialising in personal injury compensation, NHS hospitals are continuing to display posters, leaflets and other material from the companies.”

The publication claims to have visited one hospital where the appointment card for a fracture clinic carried just such an advert, and Sky News reported a claim that PI lawyers actually have offices in two NHS hospitals.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 17:17


Justice catches up with the wrongdoers, wherever they are – and whatever they are riding

Your Expert Witness blog logoNews from Italy has concerned the guilty verdicts in the manslaughter trial of five crew members of the ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia. Sentences ranged from one-and-a-half years to two years and 10 months for the ship’s first and third officers and helmsman and the company’s cabin service director and crisis unit director, although it is thought unlikely any will serve any time. The separate trial of the skipper of the vessel is another matter, with a possible sentence of up to 20 years if he is found guilty.

The sentences were greeted with dismay by campaigners for justice for the five people killed in the disaster. They are angry at the leniency of the sentences. Compare that to the way we in this country deal with those responsible for disasters such as Hillsborough and the scandal at Mid Staffs, or Barrow, or…or…or.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 August 2013 15:55


Whose reputation is taking the biggest bashing: lawyers or police?

Your Expert Witness blog logoLawyers have been in the firing line again this week – on both sides of the pond. Here, a the Court of Appeal has censured two solicitors and a barrister after an embargoed draft judgement was disclosed to ‘third parties’ in breach of a court order. The breach of confidentiality was considered serious enough to attract the censure.

Speaking out of turn has, of course, always been viewed with the utmost of severity by the legal establishment. In most cases that view has been manifestly justified. Only occasionally has there been a hint that there has been anything approaching the desire to guard privilege.

• More mundane misdeeds have also been reported – in one case with something approaching glee.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 16:46


Get building, Britain – but not on my land!

Your Expert Witness blog logoExperts in the property field are celebrating the fact that prices are on the rise. Well, the online newsletter property expert is. It quoted ONS figures and data from the website SmartNewHomes.

Ominously, the analysis appears to partially bear out the fears expressed by Ed Balls that the Government’s flagship Help to Buy programme could create another bubble, a fear echoed by the OECD on 29 May.

According to Steven Lees, director of SmartNewHomes: “It has been a very positive spring for developers. The launch of the Help to Buy scheme in April has boosted confidence in the new homes market, reflected in positive monthly, quarterly and annual price growth.”

The trend is more marked in London, where a YouGov survey found that most people expect prices to just keep on rising.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:42