Posts Tagged ‘United Kingdom’

UK: “Ex-Pc wins ?87,000 for trauma”

If he wanted to avoid emotional trauma, maybe he chose the wrong line of work? From Glasgow, Scotland: “A former policeman who sued a widower because he experienced the trauma of seeing the man’s wife die in a crash with his speeding patrol car has won ?87,275 damages. George Gilfillan was awarded the money even though a judge ruled that he was driving ‘much too fast’ and said that he was 50 per cent to blame.” The court also awarded the widower ?16,000 in a counterclaim. (Tom Peterkin, Daily Telegraph, Aug. 13).

U.K.: safety signs, second ropes for rock climbers?

Sounds like an April Fool’s joke, but it’s the wrong time of year dept.: “Because of a bizarre decision by the Health and Safety Executive — that a European Union directive designed to promote safety on building sites must be applied to rock climbers — British mountaineers will have to endanger their lives by fixing two separate ropes up rock faces instead of one. It will also be necessary to fix safety notices on mountains to warn climbers when they are approaching icy or snow-covered surfaces.” The move is said to have dismayed Britain’s leading climbing and mountaineering organizations. (Christopher Booker, “Notebook: HSE has no head for heights”, Daily Telegraph (UK), Aug. 17)(and see Jul. 23, Jun. 30).

U.K.: “End this compensation nightmare, say judges”

“Britain’s most senior judges have demanded an end to ‘the culture of blame and compensation’ in a landmark ruling which decrees that individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords has used its judgement in a compensation case to brand Britain’s growing U.S.-style claims system as an ‘evil’ that interferes with civil liberties and freedom of will.” Ruling in the case of a man who sued local councils after he ignored safety warnings and hurt himself diving into a lake, the judges warned that continued expansion of liability “has many evil consequences and one is certainly the interference with the liberty of the citizen” as well as the imposition of “a grey and dull safety regime on everyone.” An example of the latter? “This year, a historic cheese rolling event in Gloucestershire, in which participants race down a hill chasing cheeses, was cancelled because of safety fears.” (Charlotte Edwardes, Daily Telegraph, Aug. 3). “[E]ven rugby, incredibly, is under threat from the compensation culture. There is such a terror of litigation that the number of independent schools offering rugby has fallen by 30 per cent over the past 15 years.” (Boris Johnson, “Knock some sense into the children”, Daily Telegraph, Aug. 7). Plus: decision in Tomlinson v. Congleton Borough Council, via Southern Appeal)(& welcome Volokh Conspiracy readers).

UK: fraud charges fly after collapse of claims group

An investigator has told the BBC that fraudulent claims were much more widespread than previously believed at the now-collapsed Accident Group, which had been the largest personal injury claims firm in Great Britain. “”At a very conservative estimate there were 200 people suspected of making claims up,” of a 1,500-person sales force, said Paul Stott. “With some of the people that I have dealt with, from the day that they started until their activities were brought under the umbrella of an investigatory procedure, every single claim that they wrote was fraudulent. It was apparent to a man with one eye.” (Pip Clothier, “Accident Group fraud investigator speaks out”, BBC News, Jul. 30). In Parliament, Merseyside MP Peter Kilfoyle “said sales reps targeted vulnerable, poverty-stricken people, enticing them to fabricate claims. He claimed some reps waited for vulnerable people outside Job Centres, others even stood outside Liverpool Prison to persuade people to claim they had a bad back caused by sleeping on lumpy mattresses.” Meanwhile, execs were tooling around in company-owned Ferraris and a Bentley and the company founder had amassed “assets in excess of ?40m, including a ?3.5m home in Cheshire”, said Mr. Kilfoyle (Ian Craig, “Sales reps ‘lay in wait for poor'”, ManchesterOnline, Jul. 18). The Accident Group made headlines in May when it suddenly announced that it could not pay its bills and dismissed 2,400 workers, informing many of them by text messages to their mobile phones (BBC, “Bust company sacks workers by text”, May 30).

Update: Tony Martin case

U.K.: “Tony Martin, the farmer who killed a criminal who broke into his house, has been denied a preparatory home visit before his release on parole next week because he is considered to be a “danger to burglars”.” (Daniel Foggo, “Tony Martin refused leave ‘because of risk to burglars'”, Sunday Telegraph (UK), Jul. 20). Last month, in a decision that caused a public furor in Britain, a judge ruled that career criminal Brendan Fearon was entitled under the Human Rights Act “to sue Martin for a reported ?15,000 damages for wounds he received during a break-in at the farmer’s home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in August 1999. … Unemployed Fearon, who is currently serving an 18-month sentence for heroin dealing, claimed his injuries [Martin shot him in the leg] had affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts and that he had suffered post traumatic stress.” (“Ex-Minister Calls for Review over Fearon Case”, Nottingham Evening Post, Jun. 25; Chris Bishop, “Date set for burglar’s bid to sue Martin”, Eastern Daily Press, Jul. 2)(more “maybe crime does pay” cases).

On the Beeb, etc.

Our editor was interviewed at some length, particularly on pending gun and asbestos legislation, on the BBC World Service’s weekly World Business Review. (Accuracy of transcript not guaranteed.) There’s an audio link, too. Both links may disappear on Saturday when the BBC site updates to the next week’s show.

While on the subject of publicity, our editor’s book The Rule of Lawyers came in for a lengthy review from Neil Hrab of Canada’s National Post in the July issue of Organization Trends, a publication of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C. (“More Than Good Friends: Trial Lawyers and Nonprofits“, PDF format, scroll to p. 7). Also, thanks for very kind mentions lately to a number of weblogs you should know about: Ernest Svenson’s Ernie the Attorney, MedRants, Steve Pilgrim’s Rodent Regatta and Aaron Haspel’s God of the Machine (the most philosophical spin on fast-food lawsuits you’ll read this month — it’s not easily paraphrased, just go read it).

U.K.: “Trio arrested over seaweed theft”

“Three men spent seven hours in police cells after being arrested for ‘stealing’ seaweed from a Sussex beach to feed their pet tortoises.” Two police cars and an officer on motorcycle swooped down on friends Simon Braisby, Tony Sims and Deon Marshall who “were gathering sea kale on Eastbourne beach for Mr Sims’ five tortoises. … The men were arrested, handcuffed and put in the back of different police cars, then locked up in separate cells while Mr Braisby’s home was searched. After six hours in custody the men were interviewed and eventually released without charge.” Authorities told reporters the seaweed was considered protected flora. (Brighton and Hove Argus, week ending Jun. 25, first roundup item; “Arrests after ‘rare’ plant hunt”, BBC, Jun. 24) (via Dr. Weevil who got it from Electric Venom; check out the latter’s comment section for news of a German anthill-protection law).

U.K. prosecutor: top cops didn’t warn that roofs are dangerous

Workplace health and safety dept.: “A High Court judge criticised the Health and Safety Executive yesterday for wasting public time and money in prosecuting the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and his predecessor for failing to warn officers about the danger of climbing on roofs.” Following separate incidents in which one police officer died and another was injured after falling through roofs while on duty, top police brass faced criminal charges of failure to warn, which ended most recently in acquittal on some charges and a hung jury on others after “?1 million in lawyers’ fees and a further ?2 million in investigations”. “Had the HSE succeeded, the Met had planned to instruct its officers not to climb above head height. ‘It would have been a veritable burglars’ charter, a victory for criminals and would have encouraged suspects to use roofs to escape,’ said one senior officer.” (Sue Clough, “Safety case against Met police chiefs a ‘waste’ of public’s ?3m”, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Jun. 28; “‘We fall off horses. Do they want us to use Shetland ponies?'”. Jun. 28). See also Dec. 22-25, 2000 (“risk aversion” in British armed forces).