The issue of public funding for legal representation at inquests has been in the news a lot recently. Legal Aid funding is not automatically granted at inquests except in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Legal aid guidelines say that funding for a family at an inquest requires there to be a ‘wider interest’. The family of teenager, Molly Russell, who took her own life after viewing material about suicide and self-harm on social media was initially refused funding to pay for legal advice at her inquest. It is understood that one of the reasons given by the Legal Aid Agency for the refusal was that it would not lead to significant and material benefits to a large cohort of specific persons. Following an appeal against the decision legal aid funding has since been granted for the inquest, however this does demonstrate the difficulties encountered. Unfortunately, many families are unsuccessful in obtaining legal aid funding and find that they have to represent themselves at the inquest, when the other side have experienced legal representation.
A report, ‘The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power’, was commissioned by the Home Office in 2017. The Right Reverend James Jones, Chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the Home Secretary’s advisor on Hillsborough, emphasised a ‘pressing need’ for bereaved families to receive publicly funded legal representation at inquests where public bodies were legally represented.
The Ministry of Justice carried out a review of the current availability of legal aid and confirmed on the 7th February 2019 that it would not introduce automatic public funding where the state was represented. Inquest, a campaign charity, had called for automatic non-means tested legal aid funding to families for specialist representation immediately after a state-related death.
The Ministry confirmed that the purpose of means testing served to determine the allocation of taxpayers’ money to those most in need, for the most serious cases in which legal advice or representation was justified. However, following a freedom of Information request the charity, Inquest, has obtained shocking data demonstrating that in 2017 the Ministry of Justice spent £4.2m on the prison and probation service for legal representation at inquests for prisoner deaths, while the relatives of the deceased were granted just £92,000 through the Legal Aid Agency’s exceptional funding scheme. These figures demonstrate the significant inequality of arms experienced by bereaved and grieving families following a state-related death.
Yesterday, the issue of public funding at inquests was the subject of a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament. Labour MP, Ms Stephanie Peacock, noted
'On the one hand, state bodies and representatives are equipped with access to unlimited funds and resources - the best experts and the best legal teams. On the other hand, vulnerable families in the midst of grief are forced to navigate a complex and alien application process that is provided with the bare minimum of support - indeed, most people will not even receive that.'
Conservative MP, Mr Tim Loughton, confirmed that the only parties whose legal representation would not be paid for at a forthcoming inquest over the 2015 Shoreham Airshow crash were the families of the 11 victims, which he said was a ‘travesty of justice’.
MW Solicitors passionately believes that bereaved families should be entitled to legal representation at an Inquest. The recent figures demonstrate the significant and alarming disparity in funding for legal representation and highlights the need for equality of arms between families and the state.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.
20 years ago the UK introduced the National Minimum Wage, now renamed the National Living Wage. Yesterday, saw the minimum wage increase for nearly two million workers with rises of up to 5.4%.
The increases are as follows:
| Age Category
| Before April 2019
(£ per hour)
| April 2019
(£ per hour)
|16 - 17||4.20||4.35|
|18 - 20||5.90||6.15|
|21 – 24||7.38||7.70|
|25 and over||7.83||8.21|
Apprentice’s rates have also seen an increase from £3.70 to a £3.90 an hour. Whilst this is a welcomed increase for many workers, many argue that it still falls substantially short of the “real living wage” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47746093.
If Employers fall foul of the legislation and fail to pay their Workers the National Minimum Wage, the Workers shall be entitled to be paid the difference between the remuneration received and the remuneration which the Worker should have received.
HMRC also have powers to serve Enforcement Notices requiring the Employer to remunerate the Worker. If an Enforcement Notice is not complied with, financial penalties may also be issued under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. The Workers may also seek to issue a claim against their Employer for the necessary remuneration from the Employment Tribunal accordingly.
At MW, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those people who are having difficulties with their employer.
Our experienced and specialist Employment Lawyers can help with a wide range of employment issues.
It is with sadness that we see that another firm with a strong personal injury claims department has ceased trading. Our thoughts go to the employees and the firm’s clients.
Seth Lovis & Co were a Legal 500 ranked for their work in the personal injury field. Sadly firms ceasing trading or being taken over has become an all too common an occurrence with recent rafts of governmental led reform in the personal injury world since 2010. With the forthcoming Civil Liability Act 2018 coming into effect in just over a years time it is likely that more firms will cease trading.
When a firm ceases trading or goes into administration that firm’s clients will worry about what happens with their case. This is particularly true for people who are seriously injured. Usually the files are assigned to one or more firms who then have to go through all of the files and work out what happens next.
However the client has a freedom to choose to move their matter to another firm – one of their choosing.
At MW Solicitors, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and our dedicated team of highly experienced Personal Injury lawyers are here to help you.
We are able to quickly assess whether the matter is something we would be able to assist with. We are experienced in taking over cases from other firms when clients have become dissatisfied with their current firm or that firm lacks the necessary expertise to run the claim. MW Solicitors is ranked in the Legal 500 for their expertise in the Personal Injury field. We have specialist lawyers who deal with acquired brain injury, spinal cord injuries, amputees, chronic pain conditions including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) as well as orthopaedic injuries such as broken legs.
If you have been notified that your current solicitors are ceasing trading or have any concerns about the handling of your case we are more than happy to speak with you or offer a free initial interview. Use our Branch Finder to locate your nearest MW Office and our lawyers are willing to travel if necessary. To speak to a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor don't delay, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us page to arrange a callback.
MW Solicitors colleagues Stephanie Clark and Rupal Patel are proud to participate in Headway’s ‘Go Wild for Headway’ Challenge.
This two day corporate challenge consists of a 20km hike, a 30ft waterfall jump, scrambling & lots of other height-related activities set in beautiful Coniston and Lake Windermere at the heart of the Lake District.
Headway is the UK-wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury by providing vital support and information services through its network of Headway groups and branches across the UK and Channel Islands provides a wide range of services including rehabilitation programmes, carer support, social re-integration, community outreach and respite care to survivors and families in their own communities.
Headway's local groups and branches work hard to raise funds at a local level to continue to provide and develop the services they offer.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who have suffered an Acquired Brian Injury. We will arrange a specialist Brain Injury Case Manager to help plan and implement a rehabilitation package which can incorporate your health, psychological, educational or occupational needs. We will work with medical, clinical and other experts to value your past and most importantly, future needs, such as personal and medical care, income, accommodation and transport.
Where possible we will secure interim payments to assist with day to day and rehabilitation needs throughout the course of your claim.
After the recent revelation that CPS prosecutors in England and Wales are being urged to take a more risk-averse approach to rape charge decision-making, the latest figures reported in The Guardian confirm that only a little over 1/3 of the rape cases referred to the CPS between April and September 2018 (2,310 referred) resulted in the suspect being charged. This is a significant decrease from the equivalent rate for 2013 – 2014 of 62%.
The team of specialist civil liberties lawyers at MW who work closely with the Centre for Women’s Justice on cases involving failings in the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual assault, on the part of the police and CPS, are seeing a rise in the number of rape victims coming forward to challenge CPS and police decisions which let rape suspects avoid the judicial process.
The gatekeepers of the justice system – the police and CPS - are arbitrarily taking matters into their own hands leading to rape suspects remaining at large without even having to account for their actions in the courtroom. The message this sends is that rapists can get away with it.
The legal test applied by prosecutors in deciding whether to charge/prosecute rape suspects, is of course much lower than the criminal test. Even in cases where we are seeing strong evidence in support of a rape having taken place, the authorities are refusing to prosecute and giving unsatisfactory reasons for their decisions. This causes our clients, the victims, the utmost distress on top of the emotional turmoil they have already and will continue to suffer.
MW have a team of dedicated lawyers who work with rape and serious sexual assault victims seeking to overturn or otherwise challenge these decisions. This can include claiming for compensation following such fundamental human rights breaches and the psychiatric injuries these failings can cause.
One of the major problems in this context is that there are a number of ‘myths’ as to what does and, more concerningly, does not, constitute rape (e.g. ‘she was asking for it’ based on what she was wearing/how she was behaving, and so on). The effect of such myths is exacerbated where the police and CPS themselves seem to be attempting to predict what a jury might think, inevitably based on their own prejudices. The judicial system is set up – with jurors hearing these cases from all walks of society – to avoid just such abuses of power.
There is a clear and established public interest in prosecuting rape and serious sexual assault, an offence which engages the victims’ fundamental human rights. It is well known that such cases are often ‘one’s word against another’ since they often occur behind closed doors. But the crime is heinous and the second in seriousness only to murder. Yet so many cases are still resulting in shoddy investigations and poor-decision making, which itself results in rapists remaining free in society to commit the crime repeatedly. Overall, the impression of all of our clients who have fallen victim not just to rape or serious sexual assault, but to the system awaiting them afterwards, is that no one really cares.
Just such a flawed system is what led black cab rapist John Worboys to be able to repeatedly rape some 105 women (of the known reports), using similar methods, between 2002 and 2008, despite the matter being reported time and time again. Failings highlighted there included lack of training, failure to allocate adequate resources and failure to take the victims seriously.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are victims of serious sexual assault or rape. We offer initial telephone consultations with a solicitor, free of charge, and are able to represent clients seeking to complain, exercise their right under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, and pursue civil claims and challenges by way of Judicial Review. We are able to offer legal aid if you are eligible, and no win no fee agreements.
If you have found yourself in this situation, and want to speak with a sensitive and experienced lawyer call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.