MRH Solicitors Support Local Brain Injury Charity – Brainwave

September 16th, 2013

Solicitors from the Serious Injuries Department at MRH Solicitors attended a by invitation ‘Annual Open Day’ event on 12th September 2013 in Warrington hosted by Brainwave, a registered charity that provides rehabilitation services to brain injured children with three treatment centres located in the North West of England, the South East and in Scotland. Mr. Qamruddin, Head of the Serious Injuries Department at the firm that handle a number of brain injury cases met the staff and the families of patients being treated at the centre to discuss the tremendous work done by Brainwave to improve the quality of life for brain injured children in the local area. MRH Solicitors are proud to support the activities of the charity.

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Redrafted HSE guidance will put workers at risk

September 4th, 2013

APIL PI Focus: September 2013

Since the release of Professor Lofstedt’s report Reclaiming Health and Safety for All, the government has taken the view that a significant number of health and safety regulations and practices are an ‘unnecessary burden’ to employers, and should therefore be revoked.

From October 2013, for example, it will no longer be necessary to report to the Health and Safety Executive an accident in which someone is rendered temporarily blind. In the June issue of PI Focus, we expressed concerns that the drive for simplicity will put safety at risk and, as the reforms rumble on, those fears have been justified. In its determination

to reduce the ‘burden’ of health and safety regulation, the government could very well be encouraging employers to be careless about workplace safety. The latest reductions in protection, in APIL’s view, concern several redrafted Approved Codes of Practice ACOPs), which provide guidance to employers on how to comply with health and safety regulations.

The HSE maintains that the redrafted codes of practice will only be updated to make them clearer and easier to understand, and that there will be no reduction in the level of protection. On closer inspection, however, the new ACOP for the Workplace Health Safety and Welfare Regulations, for example, provides less detail than its predecessor, and in some parts uses language which is open to broad interpretation by the employer, without providing examples of how to comply with the regulations. Employers will turn to the ACOP believing that if they comply with it, they will be doing enough to comply with the regulation.

APIL believes that the new ACOP will not provide employers with enough information to comply fully with the regulation, and there will be a drop in safety standards as a result.

WHIPLASH INQUIRY REPORT: Insurers should “put their house in order”

August 20th, 2013

APIL WEEKLY – 1 August 2013

A group of MPs investigating the impact of whiplash on motor insurance has called for insurers to “put their house in order”, and recommended that the Government reconsiders its plans for the small claims court limit.

The Transport Select Committee published its highly anticipated report yesterday (Wednesday).

In the report, the committee condemns some insurer practices which can allow for fraudulent or exaggerated claims, such as making offers of compensation before obtaining a medical report. It also warns against an increase in the small claims court limit to £5,000 amid concerns that it would impair access to justice, and cites APIL’s concern that an increase could provide an opportunity for claims management companies to run claims, which would in turn generate a boom in cold calls and texts as seen in relation to PPI claims. The committee recommends that the Government analyse the impact of the RTA portal on costs and claims management before reconsidering whether to increase the small claims limit.

MPs on the cross-party committee also concluded that there is no evidence to either support or disprove that the UK is the “whiplash capital of the world”, and acknowledged that there is no authoritative data publicly available about the prevalence of fraudulent or exaggerated claims for whiplash.

The committee’s other recommendations include accreditation for medical practitioners, and a reduction in the limitation period for whiplash claims.

The full report can be downloaded from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmtran/117/117.pdf

MRH Solicitors Sponsor – Dalton Cricket Club – 2nd XI – 2013 Cup Win

August 4th, 2013

Mr. Hasan Qamruddin, at MRH Solicitors and a 2nd team player for Dalton Cricket Club presents Mr. Albert Bain, a senior committee member of the cricket club with a cheque for £750 on behalf of the management at MRH Solicitors to help promote youth cricket at the club and as the club’s official sponsors for 2013.

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The 2nd XI brought the Southport & District League ‘Hampson Cup’ back to West Lancashire by beating the New Victoria 2nd XI by one wicket in a rain-affected final in which Dalton’s Mr. Hasan Qamruddin bowled 8 overs and took 1 wicket for only 5 runs.

University Business Partnership Event!

July 16th, 2013

The Directors of MRH Solicitors, represented by Mr. Qamruddin attended a local ‘University Business Partnership’ event on 13th June 2013 at Edge Hill University as part of the firm’s programme of supporting local North West graduates to gain experience in industry whilst studying on graduate LLB and ILEX courses. In particular, the firm is keen to develop relationships with the Law Faculties of local Universities to assist graduates in gaining litigation experience and it already works closely with The College of Law, Chester and Universities in Manchester.

Transport committee grills insurers over whiplash claims

July 4th, 2013

APIL PI Focus: July 2013

Insurers had an unusually rough ride in last month’s House of Commons transport committee’s oral evidence session on whiplash claims.

Committee chairman Louise Ellman MP kicked off the session by asking about the level of fraud in whiplash claims. After some initial hedging, James Dalton, from the Association of British Insurers, settled on a figure of 7%, although his colleagues from Aviva, Axa, and Direct Line struggled to agree.

The insurers were also pressed on the number of fraud cases which result in prosecutions, and by how much insurance premiums will be reduced if the small claims court limit is raised, which resulted in more hedging. It was generally agreed by the insurers that premiums have already reduced in anticipation of changes to the legal system, but the ABI continued to resist being pinned down on how much further premiums would fall if the small claims court limit were to increase.

Ellman was unimpressed when David Fisher of Axa said people would still have access to legal representation in the small claims court, ‘they will just have to pay for it’. She also raised the issue of third-party capture, referring to a case in which an 84-year-old woman was offered £2,500 by an insurer in a road traffic claim, which was increased to £9,000 once a lawyer had become involved, and asked if this was just.

The insurers were followed by a panel of five witnesses representing the legal community: APIL president Matthew Stockwell; Motor Accident Solicitors Society chairman Craig Budsworth; Law Society chief executive Des Hudson; Andrew Ritchie QC, and Nigel Teasdale from the Forum of Insurance Lawyers.

All the witnesses contributed to a discussion about whether Britain is the whiplash capital of the world, with Ritchie explaining why the figures on which the argument is based are wrong. Stockwell also pointed out discrepancies in the ABI’s research.

Hudson led a discussion about the need for insurers to make information available to claimant lawyers, so that they can help to fight fraud. He said progress in this area had been very slow, although Budsworth also spoke about the work MASS had been doing with the ABI on this, and said he felt things were improving.

The committee’s attention turned to the quality of medical evidence for whiplash cases, and Stockwell said greater dialogue is needed if the quality of medical evidence is to be improved. He called for a symposium or long- term study on the issue. The witnesses also condemned the insurance industry practice of making offers of compensation without asking for a medical report.

Jackson Reforms Under Debate

June 4th, 2013

APIL PI Focus: June 2013

Problems with the way fees are structured in the road traffic accident portal; what ‘fundamentally dishonest’ really means; and new tactics involving Part 36 were all discussed at a Westminster Legal Policy Forum seminar last month.

Mr Justice Ramsey, the judge in charge of the implementation of the Jackson reforms, shed some light on what is meant by ‘fundamentally dishonest’ in the context of qualified one-way costs shifting. Claimants will lose the benefit of QOCS protection if they are found to have been fundamentally dishonest – but practitioners have been uncertain as to what the phrase actually means.

Ramsey said: ‘This is designed to catch the situation where, for example, someone falls off some scaffolding [and makes a claim], and then there is a video showing them acting as a football referee. That is the sort of fundamentally dishonest case that we are trying to go against.’

But he drew a distinction between this and cases involving exaggeration. He said: ‘One of the concerns is that, if you have a small piece of exaggeration that is found out at trial and you are awarded a lower amount as a result, should you lose your QOCS protection? The thinking is, no. ‘It will depend on how it is interpreted. But… we do not want every single case where damages are cut down to then lose QOCS protection.’

Ramsey went on to discuss the meaning of ‘proportionate’ costs under the new proportionality rule. ‘Proportionate costs aren’t going to be reasonable and necessary costs under the current regime,’ he said. ‘You may say that “my proportionate costs are always necessary costs”. I think one has to re-think the relationship between the two… One of the major drivers of proportionate costs is the sums in issue in a case.’

The judge said that lawyers will need to re-assess the way they go about litigation. ‘In £1m claims, if you have to spend £500,000 on a particular area, then lawyers have to ask themselves, is this a proportionate way of trying to prove that case in court?’ he asked.

One delegate pointed out that insurers will often allege fraud, which makes it impossible for costs to be proportionate because significant investigation will be undertaken by both sides. Ramsey responded: ‘Obviously there are cases which are complex; and one of the aspects of proportionality is the complexity of the case. But even in fraud, the view has been taken that you can leave no stone unturned. My expectation is that the investigation [can be more limited].’

He added: ‘In low-value PI, because of the fundamental dishonesty [rule], there are likely to be a number of cases where there is an investigation into fraud. You will have to look at proportionality, not only in terms of the value, but also the complexity of the parties and the importance of the case to the individual.

MRH Solicitors have achieved the Legal Quality Mark (Lexcel)

May 15th, 2013

Lexcel is an accreditation scheme introduced by the Law Society of England and Wales to firms that have met certain criteria following rigorous independent assessment on a yearly basis. Accredited firms offer the highest standard of client care and practice management, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible service.

Lexcel firms are committed to:

Protecting client confidentiality
Communicating with you clearly and honestly about your case
Being upfront with you about costs
Keeping you informed about how your case is going
Dealing with any complaints properly

We are pleased to announced that MRH Solicitors have been accredited with the Lexcel Quality Mark as of May 2013. If you want peace of mind and assurance that you will receive a quality service, look for MRH Solicitors – the mark of excellence.

RTA Judicial Review: The Court’s Findings

April 4th, 2013

APIL PI Focus: April 2013

APIL’s judicial review of the Secretary of State for Justice’s decision to reduce fees within the portal for road traffic accident claims failed in the Administrative Court on 1 March.

The main points are:

  • The principal argument that there had been a consultation with insurers, which culminated in the insurer summit at Downing Street on 14 February 2012, was misconceived. The court found that this was not a consultation. It was merely an approach to ensure that the insurance industry would agree to the proposals and share the cost savings by reducing premiums for motorists.
  • The court found as fact that the decision to reduce fees had been taken by the government before the summit of 14 February 2011 without consultation. ‘Reading everything in the round there can be no real doubt about the government’s intentions’, said the court.
  • The Secretary of State argued that it would be pointless to allow  the JR and make the government go  back to the beginning of the process, as claimants’ views were already well known to the minister before the decision was taken. The court accepted this, commenting that ‘in a usual claim for unfairness I should give relief despite the disruption it creates and should not dismiss the claim even if it was likely to make no difference to the outcome.’ (There is case law which says that even if the outcome would be the same, this is no reason to refuse an application for JR). But the court felt that this case was exceptional, and it would be pointless to allow the application to continue.
  • There were also concerns that the application had been brought late, and the court was not minded to exercise its discretion on that point.
  • The court added that, in finding for the Secretary of State, it was not making a decision on the merits of the decision (to reduce fees); it had heard ‘powerful arguments about the effects on access to justice’, but the claim sought to judicialise ordinary policy-making decisions.

Lloyds fined £4.3m for delayed PPI redress

March 5th, 2013

AMY LODDINGTON, Financial Reporter – Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The FSA has fined three Lloyds Banking Group firms a total of £4,315,000 for failings in their systems and controls that resulted in up to 140,000 customers receiving delayed payment protection insurance redress.

The three firms are Lloyds TSB Bank Plc, Lloyds TSB Scotland Plc and Bank of Scotland plc (together, LBG).

Between May 2011 and March 2012, LBG sent 582,206 decision letters to PPI complainants agreeing to pay redress to them.  FSA rules state that redress must be paid promptly and, in line with that, LBG aimed to make payment within 28 days of these decision letters.  However, a series of failures at LBG meant that not all customers were paid redress within that time frame.

Up to 140,209 customers – nearly a quarter – received payment after 28 days.  Around 87,000 customers had to wait over 45 days, 56,000 over 60 days, 29,000 over 90 days and 8,800 over 6 months.  Of the total, 24,589 payments inadvertently dropped out of the process and LBG had to take action to ensure the payments were made.  The payments were identified as a result of customers calling to chase payment and media attention.

Further, when customers telephoned LBG to enquire about the non-receipt of expected PPI redress payments, deficiencies in its process meant LBG was unable to fast-track the payment to the customer, inform them when payment would be made, or explain why it had been delayed.

Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said:

“The industry let customers down badly in relation to the sale of PPI.  The significant volume of complaints is a product of LBG’s own failings and the least customers can now expect is that redress, when it is due, will be paid promptly.

“In short, LBG’s PPI redress payment systems fell well below the standard the FSA expects, and the size of this fine reflects how seriously we view these breaches. All regulated firms must treat those who complain fairly and that includes paying redress promptly when it is due.

“PPI is an area of continuing focus for the FSA and we continue to monitor how firms handle complaints and pay redress.”

LBG agreed to settle with the FSA at an early stage of the investigation and therefore qualified for a 30% discount. Without the discount LBG would have been fined £6,164,327.

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MRH Solicitors Support Local Brain Injury Charity – Brainwave

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