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Expert witness use in family courts is on the decline, study finds

Picture of the Royal Courts of Justice for Your Expert Witness storyResearch published on 6 June by Cafcass – the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – indicates that the instruction of expert witnesses in cases involving care applications in family courts is decreasing. Experts were instructed in 70% of the cases in a study sample, in contrast to a study concluded in 2009, which found that experts were instructed in 92% of cases.

According to the report, the findings are in line with recommendations in the Family Justice Review, published in 2011, which acknowledged the positive contribution of expert evidence, but identified a “…trend towards an increasing and…unjustified use of expert witness reports, with consequent delay for children”.

While the study found that fewer experts were instructed in the sample cases than had been found in previous research, a survey of Cafcass Children’s Guardians found they felt that those who were instructed were beneficial to cases, rating 88% of expert witnesses as ‘overall beneficial’.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 June 2013 16:04

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Family court experts face MoJ crackdown

Picture of Lord McNally for Your Expert Witness storyThe Ministry of Justice has announced national standards aimed at raising the quality of experts in family courts. The ministry says it is in order to “…get rid of time-consuming evidence which adds little value in helping judges reach a decision”.

It is the latest in a series of reforms which are designed to improve and speed up the family justice system. The MoJ says the standards will mean evidence provided in a family court can only be given by qualified, experienced and recognised professionals.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:01

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APIL claims DWP whiplash figures expose insurance ‘myths’

Photo of Matthew Stockwell for Your Expert witness storyThe Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has released figures showing that the number of claims for whiplash injuries has fallen to a five-year low. The figures form part of the association’s evidence to a cross-party inquiry into the issue of whiplash claims and was obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Welcoming the inquiry, which follows claims of fraud and excessive claims by the insurance industry and the Government, APIL’s President Matthew Stockwell said: “The Transport Committee inquiry finally presents a real chance to challenge hackneyed and groundless propaganda about whiplash-related injuries which has been promulgated by the insurance industry for far too long.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 April 2013 16:47

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Weightmans ranked one of Britain’s top employers

National law firm Weightmans LLP has once again been recognised as one of the country’s top employers at the annual Britain’s Top Employers ceremony in London. For the second year running the firm has been certified by the CRF Institute as one of Britain's Top Employers, based upon research into HR practices and employee offerings.

Britain’s Top Employers is a national awards scheme, which recognises excellence in employment practices across a number of different sectors. News of Weightmans’ accreditation comes a week after the firm announced four new apprenticeship positions, including two that will offer an entirely new route into the legal profession.

Organisations were assessed on the following criteria: Primary Benefits, Secondary Benefits & Working Conditions, Training & Development, Career Development, and Company Culture Management. Only those organisations that meet the stringent research criteria received the Top Employers certification.

The firm were awarded good to excellent rankings across all HR criteria, including 4.5/5 stars for Training and Development and the top score of five stars for Culture Management – establishing a strong sense of culture among employees.

Sam Airey, Human Resources Director was delighted to accept the award on behalf of the firm. She said:

"The accreditation process involved a rigorous independent assessment and audit to review our people management policies and covered culture, working conditions, career development and pay and benefits.

"Weightmans scored very highly in all of the categories which were assessed and we are proud to be recognised for the second year as one of Britain’s top employers - we are a people business and our staff are absolutely key to our continued success."

The Britain’s Top Employers Awards were held at the Park Plaza Hotel, London, on the 21st March.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:51

No Win No Fee lawyers launch horsemeat claim campaign

A group of No Win No Fee lawyers have today, 25th March 2013, launched a campaign to win compensation on behalf of supermarket customers who bought beef products contaminated with horsemeat.

Horsemeat Action Group is inviting supermarket customers who have bought processed meat products over the last six years to register a claim with them via a website www.horsemeatactiongroup.com.

Group organisers believe it will be easy to establish just how many of the mislabeled products customers purchased using the information supermarkets collect through their loyalty card schemes.

The claim for compensation will be based on the provisions of the Sale of Goods Act which enables customers who have been sold a product that differs from the seller’s description to claim back all or part of the purchase price.  Claims of this kind have a six-year limitation. Organisers believe that counting back to 2007 it may be possible for individuals who bought these products every week to reclaim up to £600 each.

JIC PLP a claims management company that is regulated by the Ministry Of Justice is administering the group action campaign.  JIC will take care of the administration of the claims and instruct solicitors and counsel when appropriate.

Claims will be taken on a No Win No Fee basis. JIC will receive a fee from any compensation, 25% of which will be donated to the Trussell Trust Charity that organises food banks for low-income families around the UK.

Organisers think the claims will take at least a year to process if the supermarkets want to defend them in court.  The hope is however that an out of court settlement can be reached to expedite the matter to the satisfaction of all the wronged consumers of mislabeled beef products.

Horsemeat Action Group spokesman said “We are launching this campaign today to give the many thousands of aggrieved consumers in this country an outlet for their anger and hurt over the scandal of horsemeat being passed off as beef. We believe that for the supermarkets and manufactures involved in the scandal this could be as significant as the miss selling of PPI ”

Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 09:17