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The most common road traffic offences

Criminal lawyers Glasgow see many things in the office, and one of the major things needing to be dealt with is based see injury or damage caused by road traffic offences. Many of us may even commit these offences without even realising it, and with this being true it can be useful to take the time to think about the kinds of offenses that are the most common – and we have put together a list for you.

Speeding

Perhaps unsurprisingly, right at the top of the most common traffic offences is speeding. Many motorists admit that they have been guilty of speeding at least once in the past, with half admitting to speeding on the motorway. While many may not think that speeding is an issue, around a quarter of all deaths on the road are caused by speeding, meaning that choosing to travel a few miles per hour over the limit could be much more dangerous than you might have thought.

Drink-driving

Although most people know how dangerous drink-driving can actually be, it is still a fact that more than 100,000 people in the UK alone fail a roadside breathalyser test each year. In addition to this, there are more than 3,000 incidents that are thought to be directly caused by drink-driving. It is always important to understand the limits when it comes to having a drink when you are going to take the wheel later in the day, because the risks, and the penalties, are severe. If you are found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you could be fined, banned from driving, or even given a prison sentence depending on the severity of your offence.

Using your phone while driving

Although almost everybody knows the risks of doing so, many people still choose to use their mobile phones while behind the wheel of a vehicle. More than half a million drivers are caught doing exactly this each year, however stricter penalties that have been put in place recently are expected to improve these numbers greatly.

Failing to put correct insurance in place

Thanks to the fact that it can end up costing so much money, this is one of the offences that is thought to be the most severe of all. This is shown in the penalties that you can receive if you are found guilty, which include 8 points, a £5,000 fine, or even a disqualification from driving for a certain amount of time. Research has shown that cost is a key reason to fail to organise insurance, with many drivers knowing that any fine they may have to pay if they are discovered would be less than the premium being quoted by their potential insurers.

Failing to stop after an accident

If you are in any kind of accident on the road, no matter how small, you have a legal duty to stop and exchange insurance details – or wait for the police to attend if there have been injuries. Despite this, many drivers choose not to wait, and this could incur 10 points and a £2,500 fine – or worse if the accident resulted in severe injury or death.

The majority of motoring offences can be avoided by using simple common sense. When you think about how quickly things can change when you are on the road, it is important to abide by all laws and guidelines, as this gives you the best possible chance of completing a safe journey. If you’re not sure about exactly what all of the laws of the road are, it may be a great idea to obtain an up to date copy of the highway code, to give you all of the information that you need.

What can I do if my PPI claim was rejected?

Applying for PPI claims can be a very stressful process which is only made worse if you receive a rejection. For those who are eligible but have been rejected in the past, there is thankfully a wide range of information online to help you build up the perfect case so you can join the millions of others that have been successful in their claims. Here, we’ve compiled some of that information and are going to look what you can do if your claim was rejected the first time around.

Banks rejecting PPI

In the early stages of the PPI misconduct claims, the banks began to reject claims of mis-sold PPI in order to avoid paying back the millions that were and still is owed. However, since the tightening on restrictions as well as new entitlement under the Plevin ruling, there have been fewer loopholes for banks to jump through. The Plevin case has helped millions of people to claim back the money that they were owed due to extortionate sums that were given to sales representatives as compensation. Due to this, banks have been legally required to put money aside to pay out for PPI compensation claims, as well as a dedicated team to handle all claims and ensure they are dealt with properly.

PPI claims

PPI is a topic that can be very confusing to many and can, therefore, prevent a lot of people knowing whether or not to take the time to make a claim. However, it is important to apply if you have even the slightest inkling that you may be eligible. Millions of people have been mis-sold this type of insurance. With millions of people already receiving the compensation from successful claims, you could be owed money too.

How do I claim?

When looking to claim PPI compensation for a second time, there are multiple ways that you can go about this. You can either decide to contact the banks directly with your claim or to use a claims company to help make the process of claiming as seamless as possible. Claiming for PPI compensation is easy and with an online service, you can have your claim submitted quickly for a fast answer to that nervewracking application.

How do I know if I was definitely mis-sold PPI?

One of the main ways that you can determine whether or not you have been mis-sold PPI and whether it’s worth submitting a second claim is to check back through any loans that you may have had and contact the relevant banks. This will come as a benefit to you as they will be able to determine whether or not you have indeed been mis-sold compensation. All the leading national banks have a team in place to ensure that the claims are dealt with as quickly as possible and that you get what you are entitled to.

Perseverance

It is important not to give up when putting in your PPI claim. Although it can be disheartening, it is important to stay persistent. If your claim is initially rejected, it is important to ensure that you gather the evidence that you require and place this in with your new claim. This will then help the lender to address the claim more thoroughly and come to a more informed decision. What’s more, thanks to the Plevin case, there is an extra layer of additional criteria to help with fair judgement of the claim and ensure that the correct amount of compensation is issued.

Why misdiagnosing diabetes 1 can be extremely serious

A lot of people go to the doctor feeling tired and having an increased thirst, but a lot of the time it is overlooked by the doctor, and diabetes tests aren’t run as frequently as they should be. Diagnosing Diabetes 1 too late may cause serious harm and you may have yourself a serious medical negligence case on your hands.

Although there are two types of diabetes, both are indications that there is too much glucose in the blood.  Here are the differences between the two diabetes:

Diabetes Type 1 – Only 1 in every 10 diabetics have diabetes type 1 which is where your body doesn’t produce insulin, and it is normally developed in childhood. A common perception of this type of diabetes is that it is a childhood illness, which is why doctors sometimes will assume an adult has diabetes 2 (less serious) instead.

Diabetes Type 2 – 96% of adults over 30 that develop diabetes have Type 2. This is where the body doesn’t respond to insulin as well as it should and those that develop it, need to adjust their lifestyle and diet and/or are given medication to help the body respond better to it. This type tends to develop in older patients, commonly to those that are overweight.

Getting the wrong diabetes diagnosis

As previously mentioned, Type 1 diabetes is perceived to be a childhood illness, and therefore, some adults that visit their GP can sometimes get wrongly diagnosed. Research by the University of Exeter discovered that this happens a lot of the time, and once diagnosed wrongly, it can take a year on average to correct the diagnosis.

Someone that this has happened to is Theresa May, the UK Prime-Minister. She was diagnosed with Type 2, although she in fact had Type 1.

Getting the diagnosis wrong can technically lead to serious fatalities. Once the body runs out of insulin, harmful ketones build up in the body and there is the risk of developing a condition called ketoacidosis. This needs to be treated promptly to avoid any serious fatalities. 1 in every 9 adults with Type 1 diabetes were admitted to hospital with ketoacidosis.

Can you relate to this?

If you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed with diabetes and therefore suffered as a result, you may have a medical negligence claim for compensation.

As previously mentioned, diabetes can be fatal when left untreated, and misdiagnoses that have led to a patient’s death may also mean that family can bring a claim.

Concerns over victims of cycling accidents with recent whiplash reform

Throughout the UK, roadways are more congested than ever, but not with motorists alone. Many adults are utilising the roadways to bike, either for pleasure or to commute to and from work, but the rise in the number of road users has created some concern in several arenas. The most pressing is the fact that accidents between motorists and other road users like cyclists and pedestrians are on the rise. A recent report highlights these statistics, citing a five per cent increase in the number of accidents resulting in serious injury among cyclists on UK roads. In 2016 alone, more than 100 cyclists died in an accident with a motorist, and another 3,300 reported serious injury after colliding with a vehicle. These stark numbers point to a real need for change; however, the government’s focus is on another issue surrounding the use of UK roads.

In 2017, the Civil Liability Bill proposed by lawmakers spelled out a grave need for reducing the number of fraudulent personal injury claims against motorists and their insurance companies. The focus of the bill is whiplash reform, as this soft tissue injury is often easy to fake and has been included in compensation claims at an increasing rate over the last several years. The initial roll-out for the bill set for October 2018 has now been pushed back to April 2020, giving many a reason to celebrate. While the whiplash reform programme has some positive aspects, many believe it unfairly includes vulnerable road users, including cyclists, into the mix.

Reform highlights

The Civil Liability Bill introduced in 2017 has several components, but the main focus is the need to reduce fraudulent whiplash claims relating to road traffic accidents. Whiplash often takes place after an individual has experienced a car accident, but the injury has been cited as an easy way to claim for compensation that may not truly be due to the accident victim. The proposed bill is meant to reduce the number of frivolous whiplash claims by fundamentally changing how compensation claims are processed.

Under the new reform, the biggest change in legislation revolves around the small claims court limit. Historically, the threshold for small claims court has been set at £1,000, meaning any claims above that amount were moved to civil court. The reform proposes an increase to the small claims court limit, up to £5,000, with the intent of decreasing the number of whiplash claims that can be brought with the help of legal representation. The proposed bill also requires medical evidence of whiplash after a road traffic accident, as well as a need to prove valuation of a claim for compensation. These tactics may indeed decrease the total number of whiplash claims, helping reduce fraud over time, but vulnerable road users including cyclists lose out in the deal.

Cycling accident victims and implications

Cyclists rarely experience whiplash after an incident with another road user, which a group of bike accident claims solicitors says is part of the reason the reform is not appropriate as it stands. Many cyclists involved in a road traffic accident have different injuries, ranging from broken wrists and ankles to broken collarbones and head injuries. Cyclists often see damage to their bike and clothing due to an accident, and they may have a loss of earnings while rehabilitating after an injury takes place. These issues are not explicitly addressed in the whiplash reform bill, nor is the reality that cyclists’ claims do not meet the new small claims court limits.

Under the proposed bill, cyclists stand to lose out the most because of these issues. The valuation of a claim in small claims court only includes the compensation for an injury. In 70% of cyclist accident claims, their injuries do not exceed £5,000 and so they may then be forced to go through the claims process without legal representation. If they do decide to use s solicitor to assist with their accident injury claim, their total compensation may be greatly reduced because they cannot recoup legal costs in small claims court. The reform blatantly overlooks these issues impacting cyclists and their ability to claim for compensation after an accident.

A nod to big insurance

While the whiplash reform programme is presented in a way which seems beneficial for road users, that is not the whole truth. Insurance companies and government leaders have been lobbying for a change in the personal injury landscape for years, citing a reduction in frivolous claims trickles down to savings for motorists. When insurance companies do not have to spend their money on settlement costs related to whiplash, they pass on the reduction in cost to drivers in the form of lower insurance premiums.

The reality is, however, that insurance expenses will not decrease as a result of whiplash reform, but instead, motorists will see little change. At the same time, vulnerable road users are left to fend for themselves in small claims court under the new programme. With the delay in implementing the reform, many have decided to speak out against it in the hopes that cyclists and other non-motorists on the road will have some protection, not penalisation, under the bill.

Image: Cycling Oxford cc by Tejvan Pettinger on Flickr

Business recovery – your options and when to use them

The stats are in and the picture isn’t rosy; four in ten small business fail within five years. It’s a fact of life – not every venture is going to be a big success. Having said that, financial problems don’t have to spell the end of yours. Company turnaround comes in many different forms to suit an array of different circumstances.

Cash flow problems

Cash flow problems can occur through numerous setbacks; is often unpredictable, and if ignored, can lead to the winding-up of a company. It might be a big contract your business has lost, or maybe you took on more staff than you currently need because predicted business growth hasn’t transpired. Maybe you just have a lot of cash tied up in book debt. Whatever the situation, a company facing these struggles will start to fall behind on paying their debts when they fall due, thus running the risk of insolvency.

The first step in turning around your business is identifying the underlying cause and addressing it. So, for example, if you are employing more staff than the company can support, steps need to be taken to either look to reduce the workforce or build up the business to a level where it is sustainable. To tackle the financial problems – there are several options to consider, including…

Financing through the storm

If you have cash tied up in unpaid invoices, which is restricting your spending power and your ability to pay off your own debts, then a factoring facility may be what you need. This type of commercial financing is essentially selling your unpaid invoices to a factoring company, who will then give you a percentage of their worth so you can get on with day-to-day business. These arrangements are easily tailored to specific industries and businesses, so whether you want to chase your book debt yourself or let your factoring company do that for you, these are all options on the table.

Formal arrangements

If the debt is more serious than a simple matter of delayed invoice payments, a formal repayment plan might be a better option for your company.
Sometimes, company arrears amount to HMRC debt only – in this case, a Time to Pay arrangement could allow you to get back on top of Corporation Tax, PAYE, NI, and VAT arrears.
If your business is a limited company, then a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is another possible option. This would allow you to condense your business debts into one affordable monthly repayment, extended over a period of around 5 years, with the remaining balance of liabilities written off at the end. Similar products exist if you are a sole trader or member of a partnership.

Pre-packs and the technicalities

Sometimes, accumulated historical company debt can be so substantial that the business just isn’t viable in its current state any longer. In this case, the directors have an obligation not to continue trading if it is to the detriment of creditors, and the company would need to be liquidated.

A liquidator would sell assets at market value and distribute any proceeds amongst creditors. The shareholders of the old company may have the opportunity to purchase the assets from the liquidator at market value, they could essentially continue the business within a brand-new company. The ‘phoenix company’ would need a new name, however. This way, although the old company would have to end, a new one could continue the business in a debt-free format.

The challenges of commercial property investment

It makes good business sense to diversify your portfolio and limit risk when investing in property. Commercial property, although generally costlier than residential properties, can often bring an investor a greater and more secure yield.

However, an understanding of the market is vital as there will be certain legal considerations when going ahead with this investment. This post will give you a brief insight into some of the challenges and the decisions you may have to make when adding a commercial property to your portfolio.

Securing a commercial mortgage

To purchase a commercial property, you may need to apply for a commercial investment mortgage. Typically lasting between 3 to 25 years, they’re designed specifically for individuals who want to purchase commercial property to rent out, therefore benefitting from the rental income and property value appreciation.

There are a number of different types of property to invest in across a variety of sectors, including business, leisure, retail, industry, health and education. However, you should be aware that, according to MoneySavingExpert, some lenders have a minimum of £75,000 or more due to the legal and administrative costs associated with commercial properties.

Legal considerations

Of course, an investment of this amount should not be taken lightly and the following considerations may be vital in succeeding in buying and profiting from your commercial property investment:

Finding the right property

Unlike residential properties, there aren’t many high street agents for commercial properties. Many are sold through private treaty or by auctions, so it may be worth instructing a good commercial agent with investment expertise to help you get on the ladder.

Freehold or leasehold?

If you choose to buy freehold, you’ll own all of the property, including the land. With a leasehold, the owner contractually holds the interest for a certain period, which is limited to the length of the lease.

So, although you will probably spend more buying freehold, you are more likely to achieve a greater return in the long run.

Additional costs

Other costs you will have to consider alongside the initial purchase price include:

  • Stamp duty and land registry fees
  • Surveyor, estate agent and solicitor fees
  • Possibly VAT
  • Building survey
  • Environmental report

For more information on these, consider seeking legal advice from experts like DWF, who can use their experience to advise you how much these costs may set you back.

Buying a commercial property could be a lucrative investment decision. However, don’t forget about all the above considerations that come with it and consider seeking legal advice when investing in commercial property. By consulting the experts, you’ll have access to in-depth knowledge to identify opportunities and risks and help you achieve your financial objectives.

The importance of internal audits for lawyers

Internal audits are incredibly important for any business that provides efficient, compliant and secure services to its clients. These are three things (amongst many others) that every legal firm and individual lawyer must offer, which is why internal audits cannot be ignored by any lawyer in the UK.

As RSM reports, nearly 80% of jurisdictions worldwide have adopted the International Standards for Auditing (ISAs), showing recognition for a consistent auditing framework among many businesses. For lawyers, with the increased scrutiny auditing faces, this global uniformity allows internal audits to become more efficient, which is advantageous considering the importance they have.

Financial transparency

A lot of the times that law practice auditors arrive at a legal office or are asked to audit a lawyer, is when there has been a complaint made. This could either be from a fellow professional, client or someone else. However, the majority of times it is related to instances (or supposed instances) of financial mismanagement, fraud and when clients believe they have been overcharged.

Internal audits conducted before any such claims arise can help to provide financial transparency and hopefully prevent these issues occurring. Of course, an external audit will be more trusted by many current and potential clients but an internal one can be arranged a lot quicker, for cheaper and still offer an objective insight. This is easier for larger legal firms where it’s easier to find internal auditors who have no operational responsibility.

Identify and resolve weaknesses

An internal audit for your law firm should be undertaken on a regular basis to pick out any potential weaknesses or areas that are not meeting the required standards. Objective reviewing of your working practices, policies and procedures can help to highlight areas that require work. These can include anything from general risk prevention to making sure that you and others in your team or legal firm are meeting compliance requirements at all times.

Without an internal audit for a while a lot of risks and weaknesses could easily pass you by and make future problems worse. By identifying them internally as well, it allows you to resolve them before this happens and any current or future clients hear about such problems, potentially turning them away from using your legal expertise. This will help to maintain your reputation

Internal audits can help highlight and address issues such as billing fraud, inefficiencies, poor case management and more. These can all increase the legal fees you or your firm charge in the long run, causing real losses, which is why regular internal audits are essential in the legal business.

Does the divorce system need updating?

On 17 May, the Supreme Court heard its first case on divorce itself (Owens v Owens [UKSC 2017/0077]). The case has reignited the debate over the current divorce system in England and Wales which has been in place since 1973. In this case, the husband successfully defended his wife’s divorce petition on the grounds that the marriage had not, in actual fact, broken down irretrievably and that the allegations made were not true.

The Judges found that the wife’s allegations were not sufficient enough to justify the claim that it was unreasonable for her to remain being married to her husband. As a result, the wife was unable to procure a divorce and under the current law, she must remain married to her husband until they have been separated long enough for her to issue unilateral proceedings on the grounds of five years’ separation. This is a particularly rare outcome that has attracted a significant amount of media attention. The judgment shows that the law, as it stands, does not adequately allow an individual the means to promptly leave the marriage in the event that their spouse is not at material fault.

A recent study into defended divorce cases shows that less than 1% of divorces are defended and of those cases, less than 18% were defended on the basis that the marriage had not irrevocably broken down, with the majority being disputed on the basis that the accused party was not at fault. This suggests that the current fault based system is responsible for over 80% of divorce disputes.

This has spurred the debate of whether we should rethink the current law and introduce a “no-fault” divorce. Advocates of this change claim that it would lessen the financial and emotional impact of the already fraught divorce process. In 2015, 60% of English and Welsh divorces were granted on grounds of adultery or behaviour. In Scotland, figures where a divorce can be obtained by neither party admitting fault after one year (with consent) was 6%. In cases where neither party has committed any act or acts that can be considered unreasonable, the law forces the parties to either fabricate misdeeds or wait a minimum period of two years to formally divorce. It is rare that these cases proceed as far as Owens v Owens did, as the majority are settled out of Court; however eliminating the need to point blame or find reason, could lead to a more expeditious, less costly process.

The Owens case has certainly flagged up the importance of modernising the somewhat outdated and potentially prejudicial system and it will be interesting to see the long-term effects of this case and whether, following the controversy and media attention, a no-fault divorce system will be introduced.

To speak to the Family team at Meadows Ryan about a divorce or family matter, contact Christian Abletshauser.

The importance of representation in the administration of an estate

The responsibilities of personal representatives in the administration of an estate are a burden easily taken for granted, simply conferred by a will and happily taken on by a well-intentioned friend or family member of the deceased. In rare cases, however, the obligation can have dire consequences. A recent case involving Inheritance Tax liability (Harris v HMRC (2018) has illustrated the pitfalls of acting as a personal representative for an estate. In Harris the personal representative of an estate transferred a substantial sum of money from the estate to a beneficiary on the basis that the beneficiary would pay the Inheritance Tax burden on that sum.

The beneficiary then left the country for Barbados without paying any of the tax due. The Courts have found that the personal representative is responsible for paying the tax despite not receiving any of the estate himself.

This is a good example of the dangers of taking on a legal obligation and should serve as a cautionary tale, however rare a result of this scale may be. It is far more common for a personal representative to be held responsible for minor infractions as a result of careless filings, such as in Usher & Anor v HMRC (2016). In this case two unrepresented executors incurred a £5,000 fine from the HMRC by mistakenly failing to disclose income on an estate. Despite having no malicious intention, the two representatives were held liable for both the fine and the tax on the undeclared income.

Both of these cases, among many others, show that the obligations that come with administering an estate are not to be taken lightly. In any case, however minor, proper legal advice and representation should be procured to ensure that the process can move forward with minimal risk and provide peace of mind that you will not find yourself liable for costs that you did not anticipate. Probate professionals have the benefit of indemnity insurance, and a wealth of knowledge to avoid getting into situations such as the ones above, and this provides a level of protection that could prove invaluable at a very important time.

For queries or information on how the Private Client team at Meadows Ryan can assist you with your duties as a personal representative, please contact Jag Shah.