1 Working Together Issue 4 Summer 2008 The Newsletter of Welcome to the Summer edition of Working Together. As you ll see we have a brand new look. We ve designed a smaller more compact newsletter to reduce our carbon footprint and do our bit for the environment. If you d like to help us further by receiving this newsletter by instead of post, please send an to including your full name and address. It s summer holiday season and we hope that you re looking forward to your summer break. Holidays are for relaxing but unfortunately accidents can happen and we ve done our bit with tips on accidents abroad. If you re planning on driving to the seaside this year, be aware of the latest parking ticket changes inside, along with the loopholes! Also, with summer being the most popular time for moving house, we deliver some good news for first time buyers..
2 It is not just road traffic accidents that can happen on our holidays. Unfortunately other things can happen which are outside our control such as flight delays and lost luggage as well as personal injury and illness. Lisa Sheldon, Partner and holiday claim specialist, provides the following tips on preparing for holiday accidents: When preparing for your holidays ensure that you have the right type of insurance for what you have planned, especially if you are backpacking or going to be taking part in more unusual holiday activities. If you have booked a package holiday and are injured or ill as a result of the hotel s negligence you have a right to claim against the tour operator. This makes matters much easier than claiming against the hotel direct. When reporting lost luggage or any type of claim always remember to keep a copy of the report and always keep copies of any letters/forms you send or receive. When an accident or illness occurs preserve the evidence: REPORT the accident/illness to your Holiday Rep and the Resort Manager. Ensure the exact cause and location of the accident/illness is recorded and request copies of accident book entries. Try and obtain contact details of any WITNESSES to your accident/illness. Take PHOTOGRAPHS of the cause of the accident. Seek medical treatment ensuring that you obtain COPIES OF RECORDS detailing any diagnosis/treatment received. When you return home and have decided to pursue a claim you will need specialist advice and assistance. We have personal injury solicitors with experience in handling accident/illness claims abroad and they provide excellent help and advice. To contact a member of the team please call or for further information visit us at and follow the holiday claim links. 2
3 Summer holidays can be expensive especially if you ve got a family to entertain. Here are some top tips to save money on your holiday this summer. Book late. Booking late is a great way to catch the bargains but choice is limited so the idea is best for couples rather than families as many offers do not cater for specific needs such as children s clubs. or Book early. Some tour operators have introduced early booking bonuses which usually have to be booked nine months in advance. Typical offers include two weeks for the price of one. Try D.I.Y. Packages aren t always the cheapest option. It is now easy to build your own holiday, tailored to your needs, online by buying flights, accommodation and excursions separately. Haggle for your holiday. If you re going for a holiday you ve seen advertised on television or in the newspaper, don t be afraid to barter. These companies can usually beat high street prices so make sure you ask them to beat any quotes you have already collected. Keep an eye on the rates. When getting the currency for your holiday, always check exchange rates. Shop around to get the best deal, a lot more places than travel agents and the Post Office provide this service, for example supermarkets and high street clothes shops. Also, check if taking cash is the cheapest option for you, especially if you can use your cards abroad. Think long term on travel insurance. There are two types of policy for you to consider; single trip and annual cover. Annual cover covers you all year for a set fee, a single policy only covers one trip. Which is best depends on how long you re going away for and where you re heading. The general rule is that if you re going away more than two times a year, including weekend breaks, an annual policy will save you money. Stay put! You don t have to go abroad to have a great family holiday, England has all of what the most popular holiday destinations have to offer (besides maybe the sunshine!) especially for families. Keep your eye out for offers; several food companies are offering vouchers for deals at top British attractions including theme parks and museums; in some cases you can get tickets which cost up to 34 for the price of a bag of crisps! Did you know? At Simpson Millar LLP we have our very own Independent Financial Services department. For more information on money saving schemes to help your money go further or any other financial planning advice contact James Mann on or direct 3
4 he European Commission announced recently that Brits abroad would no longer be able to escape fi nes for road offences such as speeding and jumping red lights. Police will now be able to demand the names and details of vehicles registered in any EU state which means foreign drivers over here will also be affected. Currently, police have diffi culty obtaining details of cars caught by cameras and therefore hardly ever pursue these crimes. The change will mean that British drivers who commit driving offences abroad will be more likely to receive penalties through the post when they return home. The EU Transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, supported the change after feeling too many people felt they could drive with immunity abroad and that residents were being discriminated against due to the ease with which foreign drivers escaped penalties for which they were routinely fi ned. The proposal still needs agreement of the EU governments, but is welcomed by London Transport Director, Nick Lester. However he still has doubts as to the success of the change, saying getting details is only the fi rst hurdle; police still have to ensure the penalties are paid. The new cross-border plan would apply to speeding, jumping red lights, drink driving and failing to wear a seat belt. These are the offences which are involved in nearly 75% of all road deaths. Road traffi c accidents top the poll of most common accidents abroad. According to the Times database in the last fi ve years there has been a 47% rise in the number of foreign drivers involved in accidents in Britain. It is important that people visiting other countries who put others lives at risk do not escape punishment. 1 in 10 British motorists admitted that they were more likely to break the local speed on holiday YouGov Research 4
5 Statistics show that the chances of being involved in a car accident in mainland Europe doubles, and it almost triples in Greece and Portugal. Adele Farnaby, Litigation Executive from the Road Traffic Accident department at Simpson Millar LLP, gives these tips for those planning to drive abroad: Before departure: Contact your insurance company and ask for a Green Card. Although the majority of UK insurers provide cover to drive in most European counties it is advisable to check the level of cover in place. Irrespective of valid UK insurance you may be still asked to produce a Green Card. Remember to pack: Full UK Driving Licence, Vehicle Registration Document or proof of ownership of the vehicle, UK Insurance certifi cate and/or Green Card. You may be asked to produce these at the scene of an accident. After an accident: When exchanging details make sure you obtain the name, address and registration plates of both the front and rear of the vehicle (in some countries these differ). If the vehicle is commercial get the name of the company the vehicle is owned by. Gathering as much information as possible will help your solicitor deal with your claim on returning to the UK. Remember to take names and addresses of witnesses. When the Police arrive: Take the name, station and badge number of the offi cer(s) in attendance. In most countries it is law for them to attend. They are helpful as they can assist with any language barrier and their attendance will provide a further record of the accident. If you are asked to sign a Constat Amiable : It is perfectly safe for you to complete and sign this document. It is simply a method of ensuring that everyone involved in an accident has exchanged the relevant information and if possible agree upon how the accident happened. Make sure you are given a copy and that you understand the information written by the other party. If you are injured: Seek medical assistance. Keep copies of any documentation provided by the doctor or hospital. Keep receipts for excess payment for medical fees. If your claim is successful you can claim these costs back. When you get back to the UK: Seek Legal Advice. In the UK victims have three years in which to pursue a claim for personal injury and six years for property damage. However in other European countries the time periods are much shorter, for example in Spain you only have one year. It is essential that you get professional advice as soon as possible to ensure your claim is still in date. Simpson Millar LLP can help. Contact us on or visit 5
6 Asbestos Update Pleural Plaques In October last year the House of Lords held that compensation was not payable for the asbestos related condition pleural plaques. Pleural plaques are a marker of asbestos exposure but are not thought to cause symptoms. Sufferers however worry about the condition and have concerns about whether they may develop a more serious asbestos related condition, such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. The House of Lords ruling ended a right to compensation which had existed for over 20 years, despite many people arguing against it. Because of the criticism the decision received the Government started a consultation into the result in June this year. Hopefully, the Government will reverse the decision and positive signs have been given. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, Bridget Prentice MP has stated the Government is committed to finding redress for people with pleural plaques and expects to announce its decision by November. Asbestos Compensation. Who should pay? The outcome of six Test Cases being heard at the High Court in London could affect the entitlement to compensation for many asbestos related sufferers. The Test Cases are being run by the insurance industry to clarify which liability insurance provider should be liable for a claim when someone develops an asbestos related condition; the insurer at the time of exposure, or the insurer at the time of diagnosis. Asbestos was widely used in many industries between 1950 and the early 1980 s, but asbestos related conditions usually take between years to develop. Prior to these Test Cases, it was the insurance provider that was in place at the time of the exposure that has paid out. The insurers are now seeking to argue however that the relevant insurer should be the one in place when the condition develops, which as indicated above, could be up to 50 years after exposure. If the Test Cases are successful this could have a drastic effect on Claimants wishing to pursue a claim for an asbestos related condition. Many of the employers for example will have gone out of business, such that there is no employer or insurer in existence against whom a claim can be made. We will publish the outcome of the Government Consultation and these Test Cases in a future edition of this publication. If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease and require further information, please call free on or complete our online enquiry form at 6
7 Are nanotubes the new asbestos? Carbon nanotubes, hailed as the building block for tomorrow s nanotechnology, could trigger similar diseases as those caused by asbestos. Research says that the thin fi bre-like nanotubes could penetrate into lung tissue just as asbestos fi bres do. In the study, lengths of nanotubes were found to cause asbestos-like infl ammation and lesions in mice. Nanotubes could penetrate into lung tissue just as asbestos fibres do Nanotubes are already used in products such as tennis rackets, bicycle handlebars and baseball bats, and there are plans to use them further in future advanced electronics and materials. Although there is little risk of exposure when the fi bres are encased, there could be a potential risk for workers exposed in manufacturing and disposal. Helen England, associate at Simpson Millar LLP says: These sorts of materials need to be handled very carefully. At the end of last year we won a High Court battle for compensation over asbestos exposure just days before the Claimant died. He was 71 and was exposed to asbestos dust while working as an electrical fi tter in the Seventies. It s important that consumer safety is integral to the research and development of new technology. We should not forget the legacy of asbestos which in its day was hailed as a wonder mineral. It quickly became apparent that the mineral was potentially lethal, however it took many more years for a total ban to be imposed. Asbestos related cancers still kill nearly 2,000 people every year in the UK. The global market for nanotubes is expected to grow to between $1bn and $2bn by 2014 and doctors at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies in Washington DC, have identifi ed that the material cannot be exploited without a full understanding of the risks. Despite the need for more research, researchers still urge caution and have called for the Health and Safety Executive to take appropriate measures to ensure that people are not being exposed to potentially harmful substances that have not been fully, independently and rigorously tested. In light of the asbestos legacy this has to be the only response that is morally acceptable. If you have concerns about exposure to asbestos or you have been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease and would like more information, contact the specialist asbestos litigation team at Simpson Millar LLP on for free, confi dential and straightforward advice. Or visit 7
8 Homebuy Scheme available to all From 14 May 2008 the Homebuy affordable housing scheme has been open to all first time buyers with an annual household income of below 60,000. This is a major expansion of the eligibility criteria and the Government are planning a major marketing campaign which is to be launched in conjunction with lenders and housing associations to raise awareness. Back in April 2005 the Labour government stated its intention to assist first time buyers who could not own or part own a home without financial help. The scheme provided for three shared equity products: 1. Open Market Homebuy, which supports outright purchases on the open market with the assistance of an equity loan. 2. New Build Homebuy, which is a shared ownership scheme offering the opportunity to part-buy, part rent a newly built property. 3. Social Homebuy, which offers social tenants the opportunity to part-buy a minimum share of 25% in their existing home at a discount, and pay rent on the outstanding equity Originally the Homebuy scheme gave priority to social tenants, those on housing waiting lists for social rented housing and public sector key workers such as the nursing profession and other public sector key workers. The announcement that both the New Build Homebuy and Open Market Homebuy products will be made available to all first time buyers is a major expansion of the eligibility criteria for the Homebuy scheme and should help a lot of first time buyers who would not normally be able to take the first step on to the property ladder. 8 AT LAST, GOOD NEWS FOR FIRST TIME BUYERS! The First Time Buyers Initiative (FTBI) can only be used in conjunction with homes on new-build developments where English Partnerships has entered into an FTBI agreement with the housebuilder. There are currently 39 developments in England running the FTBI scheme including Greater Manchester, London and Birmingham. For more information on the Homebuy scheme contact Simpson Millar LLP free on Or visit Summer Sale! If you instruct us within 24 hours of a receiving a conveyancing quote we ll give you an extra 50 off! Call for a quote
9 9 Legal Loopholes: Inadequate Markings: Insuffi cient lines and bays or lack of signposts detailing restrictions may mean your parking ticket could be scrapped. Unlawful authority of the local council: Some councils do not have the right to place painted lines, bays or signs where they have done. Ticketing Errors: Simple mistakes such as not putting the correct date, car registration, car type or colour on your ticket can render it invalid. Incorrect Wording: Some local councils have made errors in the wording of tickets. Parking regimes in Rochdale, Sunderland and Blackburn issued tickets to the driver of the vehicle and not the owner. These tickets were challenged and some motorists were successful in recovering charges. Lack of License or Permission: Clampers must have a license with the Security Industry Authority. Key Changes to the Law: 1: Offending drivers can be caught by CCTV on busy routes 2: Parking on a yellow line is a higher offence with an increased penalty 3: A penalty notice does not have to be placed on the windscreen, it can be issued by post if the motorist drives away 4: Clamping will only be used for persistent offenders Our Comment On...Parking Tickets Drivers Beware! 3.4 million Parking tickets were issued in England and Wales last year. Latest fi gures suggest as little as 1% of penalties issued were challenged, however over half of the tickets appealed were refunded. Adele Farnaby, Litigation Executive in the Road Traffi c Accident department at Simpson Millar LLP, explains... From March 31st 2008 parking laws and regulations were given a facelift with the aim of making parking laws fairer. One radical change was the introduction of CCTV footage to enforce rules and impose fi nes. Unfortunately this closes the previous loophole of being able to escape a fi ne if you were able to drive off before a ticket was placed on your windscreen. We are likely to see a substantial increase in the rise of tickets issued by post and the receiving of a ticket weeks after committing an offence. The intention is to improve parking laws and to ensure that repeat offenders do not escape punishment and continue to inconvenience other drivers by parking illegally. However, this will make it harder to appeal tickets. The failure to alert the motorist to the offence at the time will reduce a motorist s ability to check details such as markings, notices and retain tickets as evidence; which will ultimately reduce the success rate of an appeal. Other changes include different fi nes depending on the offence committed. For example, parking on a double yellow line will attract a higher fi ne than the expiration of a ticket.
10 MRSA, C. Diff, and now the recently publicised Steno infection are all superbugs which are hospital acquired infections and subject to a huge increase in compensation claims across the whole of the UK. WHAT IS THE STENO INFECTION? The Stenotrophomonas maltophillia or Steno infection is thought to spread exclusively in hospitals through wet areas such as taps and shower heads. It is thought to kill a third of the people that it infects after entering the blood stream. There are around 1,000 reports of Steno blood poisoning in Britain each year according to a study by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge. The infection has worried health experts due to the degree of it s resistance to antibiotics. It can become drug resistant very quickly and researchers have found that some of the emerging strains were resistant to all antibiotics. Most commonly, the infection enters the body via devices such as catheters or ventilation tubes that have been left in place for long periods of time. The first sign of infection is fever and patients who are sent home with catheters in place should seek medical assistance immediately if they develop one. If infected, patients can develop blood poisoning or in some cases pneumonia. Some 1,000 cases of blood poisoning caused by Steno are reported in the UK each year. Of these, almost a third are fatal. Experts are now looking at Steno s DNA for a way to combat the bug. 10 New Superbug fuels increase in compensation claims If you or someone you know has been infected with Steno you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Simpson Millar LLP free on or fill in the online enquiry form at
11 C. Diff (Clostridium Difficile) is a bacterium that is present naturally in the gut of around 3% of adults and 66% of children. C. Diff does not cause any problems in healthy people however, if a patient is in receipt of antibiotics to treat another health condition the balance of bacteria in the gut can be disturbed, allowing C. Diff to multiply and cause symptoms such as diarrhoea and fever. Other Superbugs MRSA MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a type of bacteria. Whilst many of us carry it harmlessly on the surface of the skin it can enter the body through a break in the skin and can cause infections. If the bacteria enter the bloodstream it can cause more serious infections which can prove fatal. The bacteria is usually spread via person to person contact, contact with towels, sheets, clothes and dressings or contact with other objects that have been used by someone with MRSA. The bacteria can also survive on surfaces such as door handles, floors and sinks. There are 10,000 cases of MRSA each year around 4,500, of which are blood stream infections. C. DIFF C. Diff has infected around 60,000 people during the last year MAKING A CLAIM Simpson Millar LLP helps many injured patients bring a claim for damages every year, with our specialist knowledge and experience. Compensation will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. You may also claim for financial losses incurred as a result of your illness such as loss of earnings, travel expenses, prescription charges and any future medical treatment that you may require. You receive 100% of the compensation. If you would like to discuss a potential claim in more detail please do not hesitate to contact a member of the clinical negligence team on or visit our website 11
12 Charity News Round Up 12 L-R James Blower, Ruth Magee, Lisa Wright, Tony Rupa (CWU), Managing Partner Peter Watson, Janice Gilbert, Mark Kelly (MANCHESTER) L-R (Back) Sarah Todd, Sarah Bailey, Kimberley Fiddler, Katrina Fiddler (Front) Kerry Brook, Liz Cohen, Jen Wild (LEEDS) We will be exhibiting at this year s Your Money Matters Show in Birmingham 4-5 October. To find out more and to get your free ticket visit the Financial Services pages of our website at This newsletter contains information on current legal issues applicable at the time of printing. Note there may have been changes subsequently which have not been incorporated in to this material. This newsletter is intended for information purposes only and its content should not be applied to any particular set of facts or relied upon without legal or other professional advice. Simpson Millar LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales: No OC Registered office: St Paul s Street, Leeds, LS1 2JG. A list of members is available from our registered office. Members of the Law Society s Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Panels Offices also located at: London Bristol Birmingham Manchester Cardiff Wimbledon