FAQs

Please browse our Frequent Asked Questions below to answer the most common questions.


If the answer you are looking for is not within these pages it doesn’t mean we don’t know it! These FAQ’s are just a few of the most common frequently asked questions. For further information or to discuss individual circumstances please complete the contact form or email us.

Commercial Services

Commercial Litigation
1. When is the best time to consult you in respect of a business dispute?

The short answer is at the earliest possible opportunity after it becomes apparent that there is a matter which is or is likely to become, a business dispute. The earlier advice is sought the sooner a party can be advised of their legal rights and position and take a commercial decision based upon this advice and the options open to them. It is often possible to head off disputes altogether if advice is taken early. Even if this is not possible, it is usually easier to resolve issues satisfactory if they are addressed early often before any significant loss has been sustained by either party to the dispute. Steps to mitigate any potential loss can also be put in place at an early stage where necessary. A clear strategy can be determined in respect of any dispute which it is foreseen is not or is not likely to be resolved without some form of dispute resolution being undertaken or some form of extended negotiation. There is more chance of a successful outcome the sooner the problem is addressed.

2. What will I need to provide to you in order to enable you to advise me?

In an ideal world, and if time permits, all documents relevant to the dispute, a written brief providing a chronology of relevant events and facts and identifying areas of concern/complaint and the advice required. Your objectives in respect of the dispute and any other matters for consideration are highly relevant. Full contact details are important. We can, of course, advise, as a matter of urgency, cases which require this which can be by way of telephone advice followed up by an early meeting. Where time does permit, the more that is produced in advance, the clearer the advice can be and often the cheaper it is to advise.

3. What will bringing/defending this action cost?

Our aim is to provide cost effective advice and to go about dealing with the case to ensure the lowest cost to you. It is impossible to say at the outset what the exact final cost is likely to be, as all cases differ. For certain types of case fixed fees might be available. However in each case we will give you the best estimate we can based on our experience as to what the likely costs are, and discuss with you any alternative ways of resolving the dispute more cheaply. Please also bear in mind that there is not only a direct financial cost to you, but that you will have to commit your own time to being involved in the process. This will all be taken into account when assessing the viability of the action.

4. How will I pay for the action?

There are a variety of funding options available. If you have legal expenses cover then, as long as your claim is accepted by your insurer, they will pay your fees. If you do not have such cover you may be able to obtain it from an 'after the event' insurer, although this kind of cover can be expensive. LSC funding (Legal Aid) might be available in some very limited cases provided financial criteria and a merits test are met, but it is almost never available for commercial disputes. If you are funding the case privately we will discuss our rates with you and normally send invoices on a monthly or quarterly basis to allow you to spread the cost.

5. Will I get my costs back from the other side, or be ordered to pay their costs?

If the claim is worth less than £5,000 the normal rule is that you will pay your own legal costs whether you win or lose. If it is worth over £5,000 then the normal rule is that the loser will be ordered to pay the winner's costs. These are only general rules and the Judge can depart from them if he /she thinks it is appropriate and just to do so, so the outcome cannot be guaranteed. The loser is normally only ordered to pay 'assessed costs' which means the winner might receive less than they have paid their own lawyer, and the order is only of any use if the loser has the resources to pay. There are ways of making it more likely that you will get indemnity costs (that is all of your costs) if you win by making offers to settle or to mediate, but we will discuss these with you. You will be responsible for paying our fees whether or not you recover anything from the other side.

6. How long will it take to get to court?

How long a case takes to get to court depends on the size of the case, on the issues involved and on the availability of court time. In a straight forward small claim it might only take a few months, but in very large cases it might be over two years. However in cases of extreme urgency, such as where an injunction is required you can be in Court the same day as you instruct us. We will keep you informed throughout as to how the case is progressing and what the time table is. Parties to litigation are encouraged to exchange information before proceedings are issued and we will always advise you on ways to resolve disputes without having to go to Court with the delay and expense that entails.

7. How do I get my money if I win?

If you win the case how you get paid depends on the financial situation of the loser. The more information you can give us about their financial situation the better. However if the loser has no money or other assets with which to pay then the only result might be their insolvency. We will normally discuss with you at the outset whether it is worth embarking on an action if the other side has no resources with which to pay.

8. What are my chances?

There is no case where success is guaranteed. In some cases the outcome depends on no more than who the Judge believes on certain key issues. What we will do is give a realistic assessment of the factors the Judge will take into account and identify the evidence we will have to obtain to present your case to the Judge. Based on our experience we will give you the best estimate we can of what the prospects of success are, and advise you on the commercial realities of the proposed case.

Employment for Employers
1. I terminated my employee's employment when she told me that she was pregnant. She has only been employed for 6 months. Can she clam unfair dismissal?

In ordinary circumstances your employee would not be able to claim unfair dismissal as they had not been employed continuously for over twelve months. However the act which governs employment law does provide for certain exemptions to this rule, including where an employee is dismissed for a reason connected to pregnancy. In these circumstances employees do not need twelve months service therefore they would be entitled to issue an application for unfair dismissal. Your employee may also consider bringing sex discrimination proceedings against you in these circumstances.

2. I have invited one of my employees to attend a disciplinary hearing and they have asked me whether they are entitled to have a witness present. Are they?

Any worker who is invited to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing and who reasonably requests to be accompanied must be allowed to bring a single companion who may be either:

  • A fellow employee
  • A Trades Union official

This companion is allowed to address you at the hearing, but is not entitled to answer questions on your employee's behalf. If their chosen representative is not available to attend the meeting on the day that you have arranged, the employee is entitled to ask for it to be rescheduled. In those circumstances, you must reschedule the meeting to a time proposed by the employee provided that the proposed time is reasonable and within five working days beginning with the first working day after the date originally proposed.

3. If one of my employees issues a Tribunal application and succeeds will I be required to pay their legal fees?

In normal circumstances a Tribunal will not award either party their costs in a Tribunal case unless it can be shown that in bringing or conducting proceedings one party has acted unreasonably, vexatiously or that the bringing or conducting of proceedings was misconceived. Legal aid will not be available to cover costs incurred by your employee at a Tribunal hearing, however they may be covered for legal costs under the terms of an insurance policy (for example home contents policy).

4. I dismissed one of my employees 5 months ago. How long do they have to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal?

Tribunal proceedings must usually be issued within 3 months from the effective date of termination of employment. A Tribunal does have discretion to extend this time limit, but only if it can be shown that it was not reasonably practical for your employee to issue their Application within three months. Also, in some cases, the time limit can be extended by the employee issuing a grievance within three months of the act taking place that forms the basis of their grievance. Once you receive an application you must file your response within 21 days of receipt.

Debt Recovery
1. How much does the debt recovery cost?

We treat each debt as a unique case but the cost of recovery varies depending on the size of the debt and the geographical location. A rough guide is a negotiated expenses fee followed by a percentage commission upon successful recovery of your debt.

2. How long will it take?

When we receive your instructions we will draft and prepare a '7 days notice' letter . We aim to send the letter within 2 working days of receiving the instructions, and in most cases within 24 hours. Once the 7 days is up you will be contacted to confirm whether you want to issue a claim in court. We will produce the claim form and dispatch it to the Court within 2 working days, but in most cases within 24 hours. The Court will then issue the claim form and serve it on the debtor. We have no control over how long that will take. Once the claim form is served the debtor has 14 days to reply. If they don't we will then enter judgment, which is the key to obtaining payment.

3. What information do you require?

The more information you provide, the more efficient the debt recovery process becomes. Basic information such as the amount owed, by whom, since when, debtors address etc and copies of invoices and communications all assist us to recover your money. Additional information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is always helpful.

4. What happens to the information we provide?

Any information provided by you or about you is strictly confidential, stored securely and will not be divulged to any other party without your consent. We comply with all the relevant protocols and requirements of the Data Protection Act.

5. How do we receive payment?

Once your debtor has settled the outstanding sum in full you will receive payment, within seven working days, either by cheque or direct transfer to your company bank account.

6. How does the commercial debt recovery process work?

Our first step is to contact the debtor by letter instructing them of the outstanding debt and our appointment as your solicitor. This is followed by telephone calls to confirm receipt of our letters. Frequently this approach leads directly to prompt settlement, however some cases require greater persistence and in these instances we will utilise all available legal avenues to encourage payment.

7. What if legal action is required?

Our solicitors have experience and expertise in the litigation legal process and will always advise and act according to your best interests and inform you promptly of all developments in your case.

8. I’m worried that a debtor may approach me during the recovery process?

Once we are acting on your behalf we instruct the debtor concerned that all correspondence is to be directed to us and no contact is to be made with you or your company. You will be provided with a contact telephone number for use outside office hours in the event of you requiring any assistance or advice.

9. What do I do next?

Simply complete an enquiry form or contact our office using the contact us link on our website and we will contact you and take you through the range of options and services available to you. If preferable a face to face meeting, with no obligation to yourselves, can be arranged to discuss the particulars of your case.

Individual Services

PI - Funding Your Claim
1. What is No Win, No Fee?

If we believe you have a reasonable chance of winning your case, we may offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement ("No Win, No Fee"). This means that, in the event that you lose your case, you would not be responsible for payment of our fees from the date the agreement was entered into.

2. In the event that I lose my case will I be responsible for payment of my fees?

If you lose your case (or you are unsuccessful in defending your case) you will not be responsible for payment of our fees or of our success fee (success fee is explained below).

Throughout the duration of your case we may incur additional expenses on your behalf (for example, Court fees, or Expert's fees), known as disbursements. In the event that you lose your case, you will be responsible for payment of the disbursements we have incurred on your behalf.

In the event that you lose your case you may also be responsible for payment of your opponent's costs, however it is possible to take out "After The Event" Insurance cover to cover this risk (see below). ATE insurance would also cover the cost of the disbursements you incur as the case progresses.

3. In the event that I win my case will I be responsible for payment of my fees?

In the event that you win your case (or you successfully defend a claim) you will be responsible for payment of basic fees and any disbursements with have incurred, together with the success fee (which is explained below).

The usual practice is that both our basic fees and the success fee are recoverable from your opponent, together with any disbursements we have incurred on your behalf.

4. I wish to defend a claim; would you be able to offer me a Conditional Fee Agreement?

If we consider that you have a reasonable chance of defending your case then we will offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement.

5. In offering me a Conditional Fee Agreement you run the risk that you will not get paid if I lose my case. Are you compensated in any way for this risk?

In offering you a Conditional Fee Agreement we are essentially sharing the risk of litigation with you. In the event that you win your case we therefore charge a "success fee". The success fee that we charge reflects the risk we take in that we will not get paid if you lose your case. The success fee also reflects the fact that, if you are successful, we will not get paid our fees until the conclusion of the case.

The success fee we charge is expressed as a percentage uplift on our basic costs. The percentage uplift charged is determined by the particular risks involved in pursuing your case on a Conditional Fee basis.

The normal practice is that the majority of the success fee is recoverable from your opponent in the event that you win your case. The success fee is not payable in the event that you lose.

6. I am concerned about being able to pay for my opponent's costs in the event that I lose my claim; are there insurance policies available to cover this eventuality?

"After The Event" Insurance (ATE) is available to cover the risk of paying your opponent's costs. The premium payable to obtain ATE insurance is dependent upon the risks involved in your particular case.

We will fully explore the option of obtaining ATE insurance with you. If this is something that you would like to consider, we will make enquiries into the insurance policies available to you on your behalf.

7. Legal Expenses Insurance

Although you may not realise it, you may have legal expenses insurance available to cover your case. Before you embark upon any course of litigation we will always ask you to check the terms of any existing insurance policy which you have. Typically, legal expenses insurance is sold alongside home and motor insurance.

Legal expenses insurance usually includes liability which may arise to pay your opponent's costs. Your insurer will normally require that your case has good prospects of success before you are able to secure legal representation under the terms of your policy.

8. Private costs

If we are not able to offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement, and you do not have legal expenses insurance, we pride ourselves on being able to offer you practical solutions at reasonable prices.

If you pay our fees out of your own funds, "After The Event" Insurance is available to cover your opponents costs in the event that you lose your case and are responsible for payment of your opponent's fees. This is something we will explore with you, and if it is something you wish to consider we will make enquiries of the policies available to you on your behalf.

PI - Have You Got a Claim
1. Have I got a claim?

If you think you might have a claim, the best thing to do is call Essenhigh Farrington Law for free specialist legal advice.

If the accident is totally or in part someone else's fault and you have suffered an injury - physical or psychological - which was caused by someone who should have been taking reasonable care for your safety but failed to then you may have a claim. It might be against a driver, your employer, a fellow workmate, hospital or council. This can include accidents at work, car accidents, medical negligence, slips, trips and falls, and many other types of injury.

2. What is the time limit for making a claim?

The time limit for initiating a claim is usually three years. However, there are a number of exceptions to this, for example children under 18 and claimants suffering from mental disability. Please call to discuss this further.

Also, with some injuries, symptoms can take a long time to develop, such as with asbestosis. In such cases, the time limit runs from when the symptoms first appeared and were linked to the party in question.

If you are uncertain about whether you are still eligible to make a claim within the three year time limit, call Essenhigh Farrington Law or fill in our online enquiry for today for free, specialist legal advice.

3. How much will it cost?

We offer free initial advice, which includes an explanation of how you can afford legal assistance. For example you may already have legal expenses insurance or union funding. If appropriate we will tell you about no win no fee agreements (see FAQ “Funding Your Case or Claim”).

4. What's involved?

Basically giving us details of the case either in person or over the telephone. Keeping a written record of any losses, receipts where possible and attending a doctor’s appointment so that a report can be prepared on your injuries.

5. Do I need to attend your offices for meetings?

We usually deal with a case by telephone, email and through the post which means we do not need to arrange face-to-face meetings.

6. How much will I receive?

Compensation amounts vary a great deal because injuries affect people in different ways. Some recover quickly, others don't. Injuries are valued by making comparisons with awards in similar cases, and adjusting them as required. There is no fixed tariff because that could work unfairly. We can provide you with some guidelines about what you might expect to receive if you win your claim. The amount in this guide is only for your injuries, pain and suffering. Other losses, for example loss of earnings or treatment costs, will be paid in addition.

Compensation is made up of two parts:

• General damages - This is money for your pain, suffering and inconvenience. We will tell you about awards in similar cases. • Special damages - You can claim for loss of earnings, rehabilitation, transport, medical bills and other expenses. We ask you to keep all receipts.

7. How long will my Personal Injury claim take?

This is completely dependent on you and your recovery. Essenhigh Farrington Law will work efficiently to conclude your claim but it is not always in your best interest to do this quickly.

We are well aware that it is in everyone's interest to settle your claim without delay. Our job is to get you the maximum damages (compensation) in the least possible time. Many lower value claims can be settled in a matter of months. Severe injury or more complex cases generally take longer. But every case is different. If you wish to discuss it further please email or telephone our office to discuss your personal injury claim.

When you receive your compensation the payment is made to you on a once-and-for-all basis (“in full and final settlement”). You cannot re-open your case for any reason once it has been settled. It is therefore important that the settlement of your claim takes into account all aspects of your case. If you have not fully recovered we need to know what the long-term prognosis for your recovery is and that there is no risk of deterioration in your condition. We will obtain a medical report on your condition from a suitable consultant and will advise you fully on the medical evidence and its implications.

8. Will I have to fill out loads of paperwork?

No. We will do most of the necessary paperwork for you. You will have to check the details of your claim before it is put forward, but we can help you with this.

9. Will I have to go to court?

The vast majority of cases are settled without any need for court attendance - over 90% of cases do not go to court. The insurance company does not want to waste time and money defending a case where the facts clearly determine who is at fault. For this reason many cases are settled without court appearances.

10. Isn't the law frightening?

Not when you have a good lawyer explaining things to you properly and looking after your best interests.

11. If my accident happened at work and I make a claim against them, can they dismiss me?

It is not legally justifiable for your employer to dismiss you for making an accident claim. It could amount to unfair dismissal. Also it's important to remember that your employer is required by law to take out insurance cover against staff accidents. This means that your employer's insurance company will pay your compensation, and not your employer.

12. Will people think less of me for claiming?

It's important to remember that accident victims legally deserve to receive proper compensation when they have suffered injury. You are not claiming something for nothing. Modern health and safety regulations exist because over the years ordinary people have been prepared to claim.

Claims succeed because someone else has been careless, or has been in breach of a duty. Most insurance companies already charge premiums to cover such incidents. So there is no reason why anyone should expect you to suffer in silence.

13. Do I have the choice to go to any solicitor to bring my claim or must I go where my insurers or brokers tell me?

You can use any solicitor you choose.

14. Does it matter if I am self employed and injured at work?

No. This is a common misunderstanding. If someone else is negligent you have a claim.

15. What to do next?

If you have had an accident which you think is someone else's fault then please complete our online enquiry form or for further information email us at info@essenhighfarringtonlaw.com.

PI - JSB Guidelines of Damages
(*Judicial Studies Board)
Introduction

The total amount awarded to you as a result of a successful Personal Injury claim is based on many factors including the nature and severity of the injury and any consequential damages (e.g. loss of income). The amount awarded in compensation for a specific injury (excluding any consequential damages) is based on a set of national guidelines.

How Much Will I get?

The total amount awarded to you as a result of a successful Personal Injury claim is based on many factors including the nature and severity of the injury and any consequential damages (e.g. loss of income). The amount awarded in compensation for a specific injury (excluding any consequential damages) is based on a set of national guidelines.

These are guidelines only and the amount you receive may be less that the figures provided or considerably more.

Injuries involving Paralysis

Min

Max

Quadriplegia

£175,000

£220,000

Paraplegia

£120,000

£155,000

Head Injuries
Brain Damage 
Very Severe Brain Damage

£155,000

£220,000

Moderately Severe Brain Damage

£120,000

£155,000

Moderate Brain Damage

£23,500

£120,000

Minor Brain Damage

£8,500

£23,500

Minor Head Injury

£1,250

£7,000

Epilepsy
Established Grand Mal

£55,000

£82,000

Established Petit Mal

£30,000

£71,500

Other Epileptic Conditions

£5,750

£14,250

Psychiatric Damage

Severe Psychiatric Damage

£30,000

£63,000

Moderately Severe Psychiatric Damage

£10,500

£30,000

Moderate Psychiatric Damage

£3,250

£10,500

Minor Psychiatric Damage

£800

£3,250

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

£34,000

£55,000

Moderately Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

£12,500

£31,750

Moderate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

£4,500

£12,500

Minor Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

£2,150

£4,500

Chronic Pain Chronic Pain Syndrome

Severe

£23,000

£35,000

Moderate

£6,000

£18,000

Fibromyalgia 

£19,000

£35,000

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (in the region of) 

£27,500

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (also called complex regional pain syndrome)

Severe

£28,000

£55,000

Moderate

£14,000

£21,000

Somatoform Disorder (in the region of)  

£25,000

Injuries Affecting the Senses Injuries Affecting Sight

Total blindness and deafness (in the region of)

£220,000

Total blindness (in the region of)

£147,500

Loss of sight in one eye with reduced vision in the remaining eye

£35,000

£98,000

Total loss of one eye

£30,000

£36,000

Complete loss of sight in one eye

£30,000

£27,000

Serious but incomplete loss of vision in one eye

£13,000

£21,000

Minor but permanent impairment of vision in one eye

£6,750

£11,500

Minor Eye Injuries

£2,150

£4,750

Transient Eye Injuries

£1,250

£2,150

Deafness

Total Deafness and Loss of Speech

£60,000

£77,000

Total Deafness

£50,000

£60,000

Total Loss of Hearing in one Ear

£17,500

£25,000

Partial Hearing Loss/Tinnitus

Severe

£16,000

£25,000

Moderate

£8,000

£16,000

Mild with some hearing loss

£6,750

£8,000

Slight of occasional tinnitus with slight hearing loss

£4,000

£6,750

Impairment of Taste and Smell
Total loss of taste and smell (in the region of)

£21,500

Total loss of smell and significant loss of taste

£18,000

£21,500

Loss of smell

£13,500

£18,000

Loss of taste

£10,500

£13,500

Injuries to Internal Organs

Chest Injuries

£1,250

£82,000

 

Lung Disease

£1,250

£72,500

 

Asbestos-Related Disease

£5,000

£70,000

Asthma

£2,750

£36,000

Reproductive System: Male

Impotence

£3,500

£80,000

Reproductive System: Female

Infertility

£3,500

£93,000

Digestive System

Damage Resulting from Traumatic Injury  

£3,500

£34,000

Illness/Damage Resulting from Non-traumatic Injury e.g. Food Poisoning  

£500

£32,000

Kidney

£17,000

£115,000

 
Bowels

£6,750

£82,000

 
Bladder

£13,000

£77,000

 
Spleen

£2,250

£14,500

 
Hernia

£1,850

£13,250

 

Neck Injuries

Severe

£12,500

£82,000

Moderate

£4,250

£13,750

Minor

£750

£4,250

Back Injuries

Severe

£21,500

£93,000

Moderate

£6,750

£21,500

Minor (Up to)

£7,500

Shoulder Injuries

Severe

£10,500

£26,500

Serious

£6,750

£10,500

Moderate

£4,250

£7,000

Minor (Up to)

£4,500

Fracture of Clavicle  

£2,750

£6,500

Injuries to the Pelvis and Hips

Severe

£21,500

£71,500

Moderate

£14,750

£21,500

Injuries of Limited Severity

£6,750

£14,750

Lesser Injuries (Up to)

£7,000

Amputation of Arms

Both Arms

£132,500

£165,000

One Arm

£52,500

£75,000

Other Arm Injuries

£3,500

£71,500

Injuries to the Elbow (Up to) 

£30,000

Wrist Injuries (Up to)  

£33,000

Hand Injuries

From loss of both hands to amputation of finger/fingers 

£34,000

£110,000

Serious Hand Injuries  

£8,000

£34,000

Moderate

£3,500

£7,250

Minor

£500

£2,250

Injuries to finger/s (Up to) 

£13,500

Injuries to Thumb (Up to)

£30,000

Vibration White Finger and/or Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome

Serious

£9,250

£21,000

Moderate

£4,750

£9,250

Minor

£1,500

£4,750

Work Related Upper Limb Disorders  

£1,250

£12,500

Leg Injuries

Amputations

£50,000

£155,000

Severe Leg Injuries

£15,250

£74,000

Less Serious Leg Injuries (Up to)

£15,250

Knee Injuries

Severe

£14,750

£52,500

Moderate (Up to)

£14,750

Ankle Injuries

Severe

£17,500

£38,000

Moderate (Up to)

£14,750

Foot Injuries

Amputation of both feet  

£93,000

£110,000

Amputation of one foot  

£46,000

£60,000

Severe Injury  

£13,750

£60,000

Moderate

£7,500

£13,750

Modest (Up to)

£7,500

Toe Injuries
Amputation of all Toes  

£20,000

£31,000

Amputation of the Great Toe (In the region of)

£17,500

Severe Toe Injuries  

£5,250

£10,500

Moderate (Up to)

£5,250

Facial Injuries

 

Skeletal Injuries

Le Fort Fractures of Frontal Facial Bones 

£13,500

£20,000

Multiple Fractures of Facial Bones  

£8,000

£13,250

Fractures of Nose or Nasal Complex  

£1,000

£12,750

Fractures of Cheekbones  

£1,350

£8,750

Fracture of Jaws  

£3,500

£25,000

Damage to Teeth  

£600

£6,250

Facial Disfigurement

Females – Scarring  

£1,000

£53,000

Males – Scarring 

£1,000

£36,000

Scarring of Other Parts of the Body 

£1,300

£7,500

Damage to Hair 

£2,150

£6,000

 

Dermatitis

£1,000

£10,500

Clinical Negligence
1. Do I have a claim?

Providing we can establish at least some fault against the hospital or Doctor, your claim should be successful. This however will have to be confirmed by a written medical opinion and there has to be confirmation that there has been some additional harm caused by the negligence.

2. Will it cost me anything?

You can apply for legal funding (Legal aid) if your case has a substantial value, reasonable prospects of success and you are financially eligible. In the absence of this we do operate no win no fee arrangements in suitable cases and can discuss this with you in more detail.

3. How much will I get?

Basically you should be compensated for all losses caused by the other party's negligence which may include your injuries, past losses including earnings, damage to property and other expenses, and any of these losses that are likely to continue into the future.

4. How long will it take?

At best about 12 months to finish an injury claim completely although this may vary and could be longer if your injuries are more serious or the other party fails to co-operate and court proceedings have to be issued.

5. Am I a victim of clinical negligence?

It is important to understand that clinical negligence, as defined by the law, is a very specific thing. You may have had an unfortunate experience during your healthcare, but this does not necessarily mean you have grounds for a legal claim. Things go wrong during medical treatment for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a patient has to accept that the treatment he or she has undergone may lead to complications without anyone having done anything wrong. On other occasions, however, a patient may suffer injuries that are a direct result of an identifiable clinician making an identifiable mistake in his or her care. We tend to refer to this kind of mistake as "clinical negligence". In a legal context, it can sometimes take many years - and the assistance of a number of senior doctors and lawyers - to argue about whether a given incident was an instance of clinical negligence or not. A solicitor will not be able to tell you whether you have suffered as a result of clinical negligence or not; however, he or she should be able to give you a preliminary view about whether you have a clinical negligence claim which is, at least, worth investigating.

6. Is there any point in pursuing a claim? Don't doctors just stick up for each other?

Because the only way to make a case for a successful clinical negligence claim is with the support of medical experts, potential clients often fear that the experts to whom we turn will not act impartially, and will try to get their colleagues “off the hook”. The best we can advise you against this to know that you can trust your experts is that we have been working with many of the experts we use for many years, and know that they will give honest advice: if they think you have a claim, they will say so (although, equally, they will not advise us to pursue a case that does not, in their opinion, have a realistic basis). This is one of the reasons why we always put a maximum of effort into selecting absolutely the right expert for each case.

7. Can I pursue a clinical negligence claim on behalf of my child?

Yes. Any child under 18 must have an adult representative, who is known as their "litigation friend". This is an important responsibility: you must make all the necessary decisions in relation to the case, and must always act in the child's best interests. In a claim on behalf of a child, any "out-of-court" settlement that is reached can only be accepted with the Court's approval.

8. Can I pursue a clinical negligence claim on behalf of a relative who has died during - or as a result of - medical treatment?

Yes, as long as you were a close relative. Claims involving fatalities are for "bereavement damages" (i.e. compensation for the loss of a loved one) which, as a matter of law, may only be claimed by a very limited category of people: the spouse of the deceased or, if the deceased was a child, his or her parents. It is also possible to claim for loss of financial support from the deceased (a "dependency" claim). Such damages are available to a wider group of people - including children, siblings, and "common-law" partners, as well as parents and spouses - but only if you can show that you were dependent on the deceased for part or all of your income. As you can see, this is quite a complicated area of the law, but we will happy to talk you through it in detail: please feel free to contact us.

Conveyancing
1. How long will my Conveyance take?

A property transaction can be completed in weeks or months depending on whether your transaction is part of a chain and how quick the slowest link in that chain moves. However, most transactions complete in 6-8 weeks. We will always work to your timetable and keep you updated of progress throughout.

2. Does it matter if I am not able to be present when exchange of contracts and completion take place?

Not at all. We can arrange for you to execute a Power of Attorney that enables us to sign documents on your behalf.

3. What happens when we exchange contracts?

Identical copies of the contract are signed by the Vendor and Purchaser and exchanged. This is when the transaction becomes legally binding. The contract sets out all the legal rights and obligations agreed between the parties. If required, we are able to complete your property transaction without exchange of contracts, within a very short period of time, and contracts are exchanged at completion.

4. Should I have the property surveyed?

If you require a mortgage to purchase the property your bank/building society will arrange for a survey of the property to be carried out. The surveyor will provide a report on the state of the property and its value and your lender will offer you a mortgage accordingly. If you want a more detailed survey to be carried out you can request a local independent surveyor to carry out a full survey of the property. We can recommend a local surveyor if required.

5. Why do you need to carry out a Land Property Services Search?
To ensure that no undisclosed charges or interests are registered against the property and that all documentation relating to the property is in order.

6. What is stamp duty?

Stamp Duty is a tax charged by the government. The government charge a variable percentage of the purchase price as follows:

£0 - £160,000 no duty payable
£161,001 - £250,000 1.26%
£251,001 - £350,000 1.6%
Amount Exceeds £351,000 2.5%
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7. How will I understand the legal terminology?

We will provide with a document called a “Glossary of Conveyancing Terms” that explains in plain English all the legal terms. We are also available to clarify any terminology you are unsure of and you can contact us by email, telephone or call into our offices.

8. What is the Bank Transfer fee?

When it is time to complete the transaction, it is often necessary to arrange for funds to be telegraphically transferred from the mortgage lender to our account. The mortgage lender may charge for this. The charge will usually be deducted from the amount of the loan.

Wills
1. Why is a Will important?

Without a valid Will you can't control who inherits your property after your death. Should you die intestate (without a Will), your property will be handled by the courts, which could have very different results to those you had intended. In some cases where you have no traceable relatives, your estate may go to the Crown instead of the people you want to benefit. By making a Will you can decide exactly who will inherit your property and let your loved ones know that you have considered their needs. Just as importantly, you’ll be able to decide who handles your property and who will act as guardian for your children if they are left without a parent. You can also use your Will to say whether you would prefer burial or cremation and if you would like to be an organ donor. Lastly, you might be able use it to reduce the amount of tax to be paid by people inheriting from you.

2. Who can make a Will?

Every adult can and should make a Will. You need to be of legal age, which is 18 in England and Wales. Anyone in active military service in time of war who is over 14 and wants to make a Will is allowed to do so. Underage seafarers can make a valid Will too. You must also be of sound mind - understanding what you are giving away, how you are giving it away, and who you are giving it to. If you have a history of mental disorder or if an illness may be affecting your judgment in any way, consult a qualified doctor before writing your Will. This helps establish your competence and will be useful should your Will be contested later on the grounds of mental incapacity.

3. What happens if I die without making a Will?

If you die without making a Will, or if your Will is invalid, you die intestate. The management of your estate, which is your house (if you have one) and any other assets minus all your debts, is then done by administrators appointed by the court, who will probably be your close relatives. In some cases, your possessions may go to the Crown, but generally the bulk will go to your spouse or if you don’t have one, your children. If you have no children, other blood relatives are next in line. One in two people in the UK currently dies without making a Will and if you haven’t done so already, it’s a really good idea to prepare one. If no surviving relatives can be found, your entire estate goes to the Crown. If you are not married, then your partner will not inherit your estate.

4. What should I include when making my Will?

Obviously, you should include exactly who will inherit your property, and what in particular each person will inherit. Just as importantly, you should choose the person who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and who will act as a guardian to your children if they have no other parent. You can also use your Will to say whether you would prefer burial or cremation and if you would like to be an organ donor. Lastly, you might be able use it to reduce the amount of tax to be paid by people inheriting from you.

5. Can an executor be a beneficiary of my Will?

Yes, and you can have up to four executors. Remember, though, that whoever witnesses your Will can’t be a beneficiary of it.

6. I already have a Will but I want to change it, should I just add the changes to the Will I've made?

No. You shouldn't change your Will by altering one you've already made. The best way to do it is to prepare a new Will, and include the fact that all previous versions are cancelled. It's actually a good idea to destroy all the copies of your old Will, just to make sure, once you have completed the new version.

7. I am an Executor for someone who has just died, what do I do?

As Executor, you are responsible for dealing with the deceased's estate in accordance with the Will. In most cases you will need to apply to the court for a Grant of Probate. This document proves that you are authorised to deal with the estate. We can handle all of the procedures relating to the administration of the estate and give you advice and support at each stage in carrying out your duties.

8. If I am able to manage my affairs, why do I need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document by which you authorise someone, for example, a relative, friend or professional to deal with your financial and/or personal welfare affairs if you were unable to do so. It is important to make a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you are well enough to do so. If you become incapable of managing your affairs due to dementia for example, then it is too late to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. We can advise you with regard to a Lasting Power of Attorney and on the next steps if it is too late to make one.

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