THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF M W R SOLICITORS
Autumn 2005 | FREE
WORKING AT HEIGHT
PERSONAL INJURY GUIDE
GET YOUR INSURANCE RIGHT
Jane Booker – Partner Altaf Patel – Partner Annette Wilson – Partner
Welcome to the autumn edition of It was interesting to hear in early August MWR is delighted to announce that our
Today which is once again filled with up- that the Health and Safety Commission new website is now online at
to-date news and views as well as tips has given its backing to the campaign to www.mwrlaw.com (see opposite for
and advice. end smoking in all workplaces and our competition).
enclosed public places.
The site contains areas about the firm
Dare I say that we are approaching
The Department of Health is now and our people, our services, legal
those long winter months. I find it hard
consulting on Government proposals to issues, our press releases and you can
to believe that 2005 has passed so end smoking in all enclosed public even read a copy of this newsletter
quickly. One major highlight this places, with the exception of pubs that online or have it emailed straight to
summer was the Bakers, Food and do not serve prepared food and your in-box.
Allied Worker’s Union (BFAWU) annual membership clubs. Bill Callaghan, Chair
conference held in Bridlington. The of the Health and Safety Commission, Within the ‘About Us’ area, we publish
quality of the debates was as always of has now written to Health Secretary up to date testimonials. These are taken
Patricia Hewitt calling for these from the responses to our client care
the highest level and embraced a wide
exemptions to be dropped from the surveys and it’s clear that our clients are
range of topics. thoroughly impressed with our services.
final Health Improvement and
At the conference the union celebrated Protection Bill, due to come before Our ‘Services’ area offers information
25 years of service for the General Parliament in November. about the areas of work that we cover,
Secretary, Joe Marino, and also Steve with Frequently Asked Questions on
The move will increase pressure on the most of the work that we do.
Finn, the Regional Officer in the south.
Government to opt for comprehensive
Presentations were made to them both smoke-free legislation; the proposed Importantly for new and existing clients
and due to our long history of working exemptions have already been criticised alike, ‘MWR Online’ contains
with them both we were proud to join by both the health lobby and the downloadable documents, whether it’s
in their celebrations with them. hospitality trade, which is worried that a questionnaire to let us have
they would create unfair competition information about a new case or a form
Finally shortly after this magazine goes which can be downloaded immediately
inside the pub sector and between
to press, MWR partner Annette will be and used by clients whose cases are
pubs and clubs.
celebrating her marriage to Phil. I wish already up and running. This is
them all the best for the happy day and The health risks of second hand smoke particularly useful for those who are at
am keeping my fingers crossed that it both to the public and workers has work during our normal office hours.
doesn’t rain! been proven time and time again. Let’s
hope we see more progress in The current facilities offered by the site
November. are only the first phase. In the second
phase, due in 2006, we are hoping to
complete a state-of-the-art online case
management system. This will allow
clients to view status reports on their
cases online. Watch this space for more
02 | MWR today
New police checks are being made on drivers
who have road accidents while at work.
The Meeting Without Moving Foundation, a not-
for-profit organisation, is conducting a
The Royal Society for the Prevention of The firm’s website has
Accidents said the decision to keep official nationwide high profile campaign supported by
records of the number of work-related road safety and environmental pressure groups,
been redesigned and is
accidents was a major boost for the campaign to business support organisations, large now online.
manage occupational road risk. corporations and individual Government
www.mwrlaw.com boasts a brand new
departments, to create in the UK a new work range of features and options including:
It is now widely accepted that the most and travel culture.
dangerous thing most people do while at work • a resource library with legal updates,
is to drive, but precise casualty figures have been Meeting Without Moving is aimed at reducing information and articles;
unavailable until now. accidents and saving lives, cutting costs and
• a registration area allowing users to
boosting productivity, enhancing the work/life
Charles Davis, RoSPA Head of Driver and Fleet receive regular legal updates and news
balance and protecting the environment.
Solutions, said: “We have been delighted to on the firm;
learn that police officers attending road accidents • a claim area which allows clients to
NEW AGE DISCRIMINATION
are for the first time recording if the journey was download questionnaires for bringing
for work purposes.
RULES ON THE WAY a claim for various types of personal
Draft age discrimination regulations have been injury claims, making a will and other
“This will give us accurate information about the
announced. The regulations are due to come useful documents.
number of work-related road accidents, and will
into force on 1st October 2006, after a three Coming soon is a state-of-the art client
also be yet another warning to employers and
month consultation period case management area allowing clients to
fleet managers about the responsibility they have
view their cases online.
to keep their drivers safe.” The draft regulations:
Partner, Annette Wilson, has overseen the
• prohibit unjustified age discrimination in
INDECENT PROPOSAL development of the new site and said:
employment and vocational training; “The website is user-friendly, informative
and immediate, matching the needs of our
• require employers who set their retirement
A woman offered £1,000 a fortnight to sleep clients.”
age below the default age of 65 to justify or
with her boss was awarded £153,000 in
change it; If you have any queries, contact our IT
damages by an employment tribunal in August. department today on 0800 731 0717.
• introduce a new duty on employers to
Managing director Trish MacKinnon, 48,
consider an employee’s request to continue
reported his advances, which mirrored the 1993
working beyond retirement;
hit film Indecent Proposal, but was suspended * WEBSITE USERS HAVE
from her £100,000-a-year job. • require employers to inform employees in
writing, and at least six months in advance, of
THE CHANCE TO WIN
Jack Parkinson, 60, became obsessed with the
their intended retirement date. This will £50 WORTH OF MARKS
divorced mother after their recruitment
allow people to plan for their retirement; AND SPENCERS
companies merged, the tribunal in Ashford,
Kent, heard. Mrs MacKinnon, who claimed • remove the upper age limit for unfair dismissal VOUCHERS. LOG ON
sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal, said and redundancy rights, giving older workers
she had suffered depression since quitting the the same rights to claim unfair dismissal or
TO OUR WEBSITE FOR
firm following 10 months of harassment. receive a redundancy payment as younger FURTHER DETAILS.
workers, unless there is a genuine retirement;
• include provisions relating to service related
benefits and occupational pensions.
MWR today | 03
To blow or not to blow
History is littered with whistle-blowers – good and bad. Judas was vilified after
blowing the whistle on Jesus for 30 pieces of silver - he never recovered his
reputation and his name has been synonymous with deceit ever since. But usually whistle
blowers become unlikely heroes - they take a stand to right a wrong and protect themselves
and colleagues from harm.
Sometimes their David and Goliath battles with governments and corporate giants are so epic
they are immortalised in Hollywood legend. Whistle blowing is still high risk but ‘doing the
right thing’ remains the ultimate reward. Here, MWR employment lawyer Sadiq Vohra
explains why bosses shouldn’t shoot the messenger.
If cases of whistle blowing are handled • a danger to the health and safety of any • remember you are a witness, not a
correctly they can actually improve a individual; complainant.
company’s working practices.
• damage to the environment; DON’T:
Increasingly organisations – particularly
councils and other government bodies – are • deliberate covering-up of information • forget there may be an innocent or good
setting up their own whistle blowing tending to show any of the above. explanation;
procedures, sometimes even telephone PIDA covers internal disclosures to • become a private detective;
hotlines. employers, disclosures made to third parties
such as union representatives and wider • use a whistleblowing procedure to pursue
This benefits everyone – employees can a personal grievance;
report a problem to a third party, disclosures to the police, press or MPs for
anonymously if they wish – and, if that is the example. • expect thanks.
first stage of disclosure, employers cannot be
accused of not listening.
To be covered by the legislation a
Sometimes it takes a dramatic event to whistleblower MUST satisfy certain FAMOUS WHISTLE-BLOWERS
prompt such action by the authorities. For conditions: Dr Stephen Bolsin
example, the NHS has introduced new laws consultant anaesthetist at the Bristol Royal
to offer greater protection to whistle blowers • disclosure to the employer will be
protected if it is made in good faith; Infirmary exposed colleagues’ misconduct
in the wake of the case of killer GP Harold after deaths of babies during open heart
• disclosure to a regulator (for example the
A recent survey by the Equal Opportunities Health and Safety Executive, Environment
Agency) will be protected where, in Sherron Watkins
Commission of successful employment former vice-president of corporate
tribunal applicants found that 50 per cent of addition, the whistleblower honestly and
reasonably believes the information and any development at US energy company Enron.
workers had not made formal complaints Exposed an accounting scam where Enron
because: allegation in it are substantially true;
had used off-the-book partnerships to hide
• they thought they’d weather the storm to • disclosure to other bodies is protected if, in losses and inflated profits by $600 million.
save their careers; addition to the tests for regulatory
disclosure, it is reasonable in all Coleen Rowley
• they felt there was no-one to tell; circumstances and is not made for personal Accused the FBI of a cover-up after a warrant
gain. she requested to seize the computer of a
• they were embarrassed; suspected Islamic extremist was refused. The
Employers have a responsibility for the health man had joined an American flight school to
• they feared they would not be believed. and safety of their workers. learn how to fly a jet but not take off and
land. Zacarias Moussaoui was later charged as
Ultimately, if employees feel their concerns a conspirator in the September 11 terrorist
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 are being ignored, the law affords them attacks.
(PIDA) – which became law in 1998 - considerable protection to ‘blow the whistle’.
protects workers who blow the whistle on David Shayler
wrongdoing. It comes into play where a Former MI5 officer who blew the whistle
worker has a reasonable belief that their SOME WORDS OF WARNING after becoming disillusioned with the secret
disclosure tends to show one or more of the service.
• a criminal offence; CONTACT
• keep calm;
• the breach of a legal obligation; Sadiq Vohra at MWR Solicitors on
• think about the risks and outcomes before 01772 254201 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• a miscarriage of justice;
04 | MWR today
Working at height regulation
Falling from height is one of the most common causes of death and serious injury
at work. Here, MWR partner Jane Booker presents a brief guide to new legislation
introduced to prevent UK workers taking a tumble.
The latest changes to the Work at Height 6. Ensure that work equipment is properly
Regulations 2005 came into force in April this inspected and maintained and properly
year following increased concern about selected for use at height.
injuries caused by falls.
Put simply – the regulations apply if there is a
7. Ensure that suitable and sufficient steps are
taken to prevent injury to a person by any
material or object falling onto them.
risk that “without measures being taken a
person might fall a distance liable to cause 8. Ensure that “danger areas” are clearly marked.
WHO IS COVERED?
9. Ensure that work is not carried out near or
on fragile surfaces. If this is not practical then THE BRAIN
steps must be taken for extra safeguards.
Employers, self-employed workers and their
staff, in addition anyone who controls the
work of others – such as building owners
employing contractors. EQUIPMENT FOR USE AT FOUNDATION
EXAMPLES OF TYPES OF The Brain and Spine Foundation was
Employers must give priority to collective
WORK COVERED protection measures over personal protection
set up in 1992 to develop research,
measures. education and information programmes
Construction, clearing gutters and pipes,
painting walls and ceilings, changing light aimed at improving the prevention,
They must take into account matters including treatment and care of people affected
bulbs, using a ladder, working on roofs or working conditions and risks to the safety of
high buildings. people working nearby, distance and by disorders of the brain and spine and
consequence of a fall and duration and to stimulate the greater allocation of
WHAT IS A “HEIGHT?” frequency of use. resources across all neurological
A place is at “height” if a person can be Each individual place which will be used for
injured falling from it, even if it is at or below working at height must be checked on every Thirteen years on, it continues to
ground level. occasion before it is used and records of
inspection kept. provide a wide range of information
A person who slipped and fell working at a and services for patients, carers and
level would not be covered – the fall must be health professionals. During this time, it
from one level to another. RISK OF FALLS AT 2 METRES has produced 31 booklets on a variety
OR MORE of neurological conditions, work books
EMPLOYERS’ DUTIES: for schools and colleges, and
Where falls are 2m or more, Health and
To ensure that no work is carried out at Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors expect educational videos for GPs and other
height if it can be done at ground level. action to prevent falls such as guard rails and health professionals.
Otherwise employers must: The Brain and Spine Helpline, run by
1. Do all that is reasonable to prevent a person EMPLOYEES’ DUTIES neuroscience healthcare professionals,
from falling. has responded to over 20,000 calls
Employees must report any activity or defect
2. Postpone work if weather conditions are likely connected with working at height that puts since its launch in 1998. In addition,
to endanger others – for example themselves or others at risk. the former Brain and Spine Website
maintenance on a roof / building in icy or received in excess of 3,000 users a
rainy conditions. Employees must use work equipment and
safety devices in accordance with any training month. With its new increased
3. Ensure that work at height is properly or instructions given. capacity, the new website will see
planned, organised and supervised. these figures rise dramatically.
Employees with concerns should speak to
4. Ensure that risks are assessed and staff are
their union representative.
trained and competent.
For further information,
5. Ensure the place where work is done at CONTACT call 0808 808 100.
height is safe and has features which would
prevent a fall. Jane Booker at MWR Solicitors on: 01772
254201 or email@example.com
MWR today | 05
MWR boosts partnership
MWR employment lawyer Sadiq Vohra has been
promoted to partner level.
Sadiq, who lives in Preston, originally joined alongside some very talented legal
MWR in 1997 as part of his legal studies but professionals who have helped me right from
quickly progressed through the firm’s ranks. the start of my career and I look forward to
He achieved solicitor status in 2000 and this next chapter.”
became an integral part of MWR’s
employment law team, which he now heads. Commenting on his promotion, Jane Booker,
said: “Sadiq’s enthusiasm and commitment
As part of MWR’s work with trade unions, has been unwavering since he joined the firm
Sadiq has represented members of the Bakers eight years ago. He is now a vital member of
and Allied Food Workers Union and Transport the firm and his track record in representing
& General Workers Union across a range of our clients is first class.
employment related matters, such as unfair
dismissal, sexual harassment and redundancy. “This promotion highlights how committed
the firm is to investing in the progress and
Sadiq, 30, said: “It’s great to be part of a firm development of its members. We are
which recognises and rewards the efforts of delighted for Sadiq.”
its members. I am privileged to be working
how to... How to keep your property “as safe as houses”
“Your home is your castle” and is probably the Typical buildings cover would insure your changes, they may reject or reduce any claim or
most expensive purchase you will make. property against loss or damage arising from, but even treat you as being uninsured.
not limited to fire, storm or flood, theft or
Here Geoff Shaw A.C.I.I. senior manager of vandalism, falling trees and subsidence. Companies may charge an administration fee for
North West insurance brokers, Ribble Insurance any changes made to your policy details during
Services Ltd, presents some handy hints on how HOW MUCH SHOULD I INSURE the period of cover. The cost will vary between
to keep that property “as safe as houses”. MY CONTENTS FOR? £10 and £20 and you will be made aware of the
amount in advance of the transaction.
Here are some of the most frequently asked Contents cover would provide similar protection
questions: and could be extended to include for example DOES MY LOCATION AFFECT THE
accidental damage such as spillage of paint on COST OF MY PREMIUM?
IS HOUSE INSURANCE A LEGAL carpets or cover away from the premises for
REQUIREMENT? sports equipment. Yes – your premium will depend on several
factors including the type of property, its value,
House insurance is not a legal requirement but You should insure your contents for the amount and where it is located.
for the majority of people it is a sensible and it would cost you to replace them as new.
necessary precaution. It may also be a condition However, for clothing, linen and bicycles you As with motor insurance, premiums vary across
of your mortgage. should deduct wear and tear from the cost you the UK, but on average costs are highest in
originally paid. London and lowest in such places as the Outer
As with motor insurance, premiums vary across Hebrides.
the UK, but on average costs are highest in HOW CAN I GET THE BEST
London and lowest in Northern Ireland. CAN I DO ANYTHING TO KEEP
MY INSURANCE COSTS DOWN?
WHAT IS BUILDINGS COVER? It is important to seek specialist advice for any
type of insurance. Many people prefer to Yes - you can improve the security of your
Your house including sheds, summerhouses, property by fitting high quality door and window
garages and greenhouses, which are all designed arrange their policy through an Insurance Broker,
where products can be offered across a wide locks, a burglar alarm and/or smoke alarm or
and only used for domestic purposes. Your even joining Neighbourhood Watch.
buildings also include swimming pools, hot tubs, range of insurance companies, and usually at
hard tennis courts, terraces, patios, driveways, competitive rates. The Internet also offers many Please consult your insurance broker before
footpaths, walls, gates, hedges and fences all good online Brokers. fitting any security devices.
within the same site at the insured address
shown in your schedule.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I REVIEW
MY POLICIES? For further information on insurance products
and services, contact Ribble Insurance Services
It is sensible to review your household policy at Ltd. on 01772 333818
least annually and certainly whenever a change
of circumstances occurs, such as moving house
or acquiring jewellery. If you don't tell your
insurance company or broker about any relevant
06 | MWR today
A guide to personal injury
by Eddie Mansley
Even when liability is not in dispute a personal
injury claim needs considered and careful
Going it alone can drive you round the bend so
it pays to ask the experts, as MWR’s Eddie
Accident statistics make tragic reading – their Even the smallest bump can cause trauma and A personal injury claim is not just about the
only redeeming feature is they are decreasing upset but if a third party is responsible then a simple facts of the accident such as a crash
year on year. claim is possible. resulting in a broken arm.
Figures just released by The Department for Almost every vehicle on our roads has to be There is much more to it than that. You might
Transport and the Regions show: insured for third party claims at least. Other be a sportsman and the injury has prevented
road users such as cyclists, horse riders and you from competing for the rest of the
• 280,840 casualties on Britain’s roads during walkers are not legally bound to have season.
2004 – 3 per cent down on 2003
insurance cover but nowadays many do
through other policies such as household You might have been due to embark on a
• 3,221 fatalities – 8 per cent down on 2003
insurance. cruise for your 25th wedding anniversary and
• 166 child fatalities – 3 per cent down on you couldn’t go after a crash left you with a
2003 It is now possible to make a claim where an leg in plaster.
animal has run across a road and caused a
ACCIDENT CLAIMS ARISING crash – especially if someone has been Aside from the actual hard facts of the
injured. accident people can claim for aspects such as
FROM ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
loss of enjoyment.
ARE A COMPLICATED AREA. Also, new EU legislation means that if you
MANY PEOPLE ASSUME THAT drive abroad and have an accident with a There is often something which is particularly
INSURERS DEAL WITH foreign driver their insurers have to nominate unusual to a claimant.
EVERYTHING BUT THIS IS NOT an insurance company in Britain to deal with
ALWAYS THE CASE. the matter on their behalf – therefore CONTACT
pursuing a claim against a French motorist
A major factor is whether drivers have should be no more difficult than one involving Eddie Mansley at MWR Solicitors on 01772
comprehensive or third party insurance or a British driver. 254201 or firstname.lastname@example.org
legal expenses cover within their policy.
Top tips in the event of an RTA:
• note the registration number of the offending vehicle and the driver’s name, address, contact number and insurance details;
• obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses;
• consider reporting the incident to police in case the other driving is uninsured – even if you are told it’s not a police matter the call will
have been logged;
• write down everything you can remember about the accident as soon as possible so the most accurate record is logged;
• photograph the scene and injuries;
• visit your GP or hospital as soon as possible so a record is made of your injuries;
• keep a diary of your symptoms/injuries detailing how severely and regularly they affected you;
• keep a record with receipts of any expenses incurred as a direct result of the accident such as taxi fares, childcare;
• if the accident occurred when you were in a works vehicle or on works business inform your employer as soon as possible.
MWR today | 07
Word on the street
Free help for victims Write to reply Me and my job
MWR has embarked on a Government initiative At MWR, client feedback is vital in ensuring we
to provide free legal advice to the victims of the retain our high standards of client care. Here is John Doyle
July 7 London bomb blasts. some recent feedback from a selection of MWR
The firm has set up a free hotline for those
victims of the bombings who need legal advice • “Your solicitor was very pleasant, efficient and In this edition of Today we
about their rights and entitlements. courteous. I would definitely recommend you
to family and friends. Thank you.” profile Business Development
Following discussions between the Government,
the Law Society (the governing body of the UK • “I am just pleased that she (the MWR
Manager and Claims Assistant
legal industry) and the Association of Personal solicitor) found out what a lie the other John Doyle – an essential link
Injury Lawyers (APIL), solicitors across the UK person was saying and she got the money in the MWR chain.
were invited to take part in the scheme. that was due to me. She did very well.”
MWR, members of APIL, along with other firms • “I would recommend your firm to anyone
in the UK, will advise victims on completing who wanted help because lots of my dealings
application forms for compensation from the with other firms were let down badly after
Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, being give the run-around and not been
collation of evidence to support applications, asked the relevant questions.”
their rights and entitlements and advice about
probate, wills, welfare benefits and inquests.
MWR is a knockout
Three underprivileged children from Preston will receive motorised wheelchairs after an MWR team John Doyle
raised over £1,000 in a local summer ‘It’s a Knockout competition’ in aid of Child Today.
I am often the first point of personal
contact for clients when they seek
out MWR’s services regarding a claim.
My job initially is to talk to the client to sort
out the facts and obtain all the evidence –
basically to decide whether there is a claim
or not. If there is, I deal with the initial
paperwork and get the ball rolling.
After that I monitor each case as it takes its
course and maintain contact between all
Most of my work is done from home and
A knockout MWR tea every day is different. I have to be flexible.
Often clients can only be contacted in the
evenings, but I am usually available because
Lisa Nelson, Mark Nelson, Sharon Rigby, Ian Melling, Wes Nuttall, Altaf Patel, Lesley Mellis, Sadiq personal contact is vital to build and maintain
Vohra and Daniel Birstall all combined to take third place. Well done to all. a trusting relationship, and to offer an
efficient service particularly for clients who
live in other parts of the country. All clients I
deal with have my mobile number and can
Can we help? contact me at anytime.
From road traffic accidents, industrial injuries, occupational diseases, employment problems to wills My personal contact with injured clients
and conveyancing, MWR can help. Call us on freephone 0800 731 0717 and you’ll soon be speaking triggered an interest in their future progress
and this has led to my involvement helping
to a legal specialist who will advise you on exactly what to do.
injury victims, particularly Headway, a
Visit our website on www.mwrlaw.com. national charity for head injury victims and
If you would like a brochure, please call Jayne Raven or Anne Pickles on 0800 731 0717. their families. I have recently become
treasurer of our local group and it is very
satisfying to be making a contribution
towards helping all concerned to find a
MWR Solicitors better quality of life.
No.6 Cannon Street, Preston, Lancashire PR1 3PY
Freephone 0800 731 0717 Fax 01772 202976
Email email@example.com Website www.mwrlaw.com