I do hope that I am not deported back to England when I return to Scotland on the morrow

I will be wearing – Yellow glasses, red trousers, blue suede shoes, black polo shirt, yellow watch, and walking with a marvellous walking stick with a test tube inside the stem and a brass eagle head handle…but I will have my Scottish St Andrews flag (which I have had for years) and I shall talk like Fyfe Robertson.  And here is the great reporter on a short YouTube clip

I shall head for Largs, Ayrshire on the West Coast of Scotland and hope to take black coffee at Nardini before too long.  I shall also eat some fish and chips.  They do good ‘fish suppers’ up in Largs.

I have every expectation that my first clothing purchase in Scotland will be a deerstalker hat… but I shall take my Panama Hat just in case.

Have a great weekend. Hopefully, my next post will be from the West Coast of Scotland.  There probably won’t be a great deal of LAW in it – but, there we are…. these things happen.

Data security in Legal IT

Data security in Legal IT
Matt Torrens
SproutIT – Legal IT specialists

Be honest, what do you think?  You’re reading this article for a reason and must have some opinion on data security within UK Legal.  I’d venture that, if you are really honest and you make clear comparisons with other professional service markets, we’d agree that Legal is a long way behind. 

The UK, as a whole, fares comparatively well with our European neighbours when it comes to data security.  We have the highest percentage of encrypted company laptops (62%, compared with 36% in France and 56% in Germany) and also report the highest percentage of encrypted company mobiles (41%, compared with 21% in France and 32% in Germany) according to a ComputerWeekly study.  But do those figures carry over to the Legal sector?  I doubt it. Very much.

To reduce, or even remove, that gap, we must first understand why it exists in the first place.

Regulatory Bodies

Our solicitors and barristers answer to a number of organisations when it comes to, amongst other things, data security.  The ICO, SRA, Bar Council and Law Society act as regulators, advisors and promotors of professional excellence.  Published taglines such as  ‘we provide authoritative guidance’, ‘promoting the highest professional standards’ and ‘committed to excellence’ seem to fly in the face of serious, published advice from the same regulatory bodies:

  • “How to dispose of your hard drive securely…………removing the hard drive from the computer and hitting it repeatedly with a heavy hammer”
  • “Passwords……………facial recognition software is an acceptable alternative”

Such poor ‘advice’ simply does not exist for Financial and Healthcare providers.

The Law Society’s published guide for Information Security was helpfully last updated on 11th October 2011 and the Bar Council’s review in 2014 can only have been completed by non-technical authors that certainly favour the term ‘should’ over ‘must’.  Conversely, the Financial Conduct Authority ‘enforce’ rather than ‘guide’ and “make it clear that there are real and meaningful consequences for firms or individuals that don’t play by the rules”.

Back in Legal, the IT element of the resurgent Bar Standards Board Audit process is well intentioned but poorly designed.  In fact, Chambers are more regularly interrogated as to their data security arrangements by significant clients (Banks, Insurance Companies etc) than by their own regulatory bodies, almost as if they feel they need to take such matters into their own hands.

Working Practice

In general terms, data security practices are better thought out, implemented and enforced in solicitor firms, than in Chambers.  80% of barristers are self-employed and have been individually purchasing and managing their PC’s, smartphones etc, long before anyone coined ‘BYOD’.  Despite sharing common computing resources, barristers routinely flout best practice and even written policies, simply citing self-employment and full autonomy as their defence.   

A solicitor firm, at least, often allows for full control over the desktop environment giving greater autonomy back to the IT Dept.  USB devices, downloads, installation rights, browsing restrictions and TLS email encryption are all commonplace.  Most firms still have the rogue fee earner or partner who is happy to circumnavigate the rules because they always have done, and resent the restrictions.  Data security, and IT security in general, isn’t a geeky desire to impose unduly prescriptive rules but a duty to protect precious and sensitive client data.

Individual Attitudes

Integral to the success of any system, is the attitude and behaviour of the individuals within it. 

The issue of data synchronisation, mobile access and cloud storage is a hot topic.  Other professional services are way ahead, with Citrix ShareFile championed in the US Healthcare market – to be fair, there are some good off the shelf UK products too; Workshare, Nikec and so on.  So why, when a clerk or barrister receives a secure communication or invitation to share via a secure tool, do they look so bemused and immediately begin to search for an ‘easier’ way.  Because they are seeking familiarity and the path of least resistance, safe in the knowledge that their toothless governing bodies won’t bite.

Indeed, the same survey showed two thirds of respondents do not always check whether the data is safe to share, and little more than two thirds said to share data easily, they were willing to use personal cloud services to circumvent company IT restrictions and policies.

Rive Gauche: Funerals and other unimportant matters…

I don’t have an expensive phone.  In fact, I have a very cheap phone.  All it does is make and receive phonecalls.  Unfortunately, it is not a clever enough phone to reject unsolicited calls from bores asking me if I would like to plan my own funeral when I am trying to write a sensible blog post or about to go outside to do some professional smoking.

Unfortunately these ‘phone bores’ hide their number so it is not possible to phone them back later to ask if they need any double glazing, want to buy a camper van, or even a camp van, or if they have had a pleasant evening planning their funerals.

I am about to move back to the West of Scotland – so I thought I would do some Law  blogging before I escape.  Fortified by some Marlboro Menthol fags, I went outside, braving the short rain shower, and reflected.  Did I actually need to write about Law tonight?  Would it add to the sum of human achievement, learning and endeavour if I did?

Pleasingly, the decision I came to for both questions was “No”.  This frees me to write about something else that interests me.


You may have worked out that you are not going to find any law in this post.  You are right – mea culpa.


I enjoy watching cricket.  I particularly enjoy the sardonic humour – particularly from the Aussies. A small selection from the net for you:

Q. What do Geraint Jones and Michael Jackson have in common?
A. They both wear gloves for no apparent reason.

Q. What is the height of optimism?
A. An English batsman applying sunscreen.

Q. What does Ashley Giles put in his hands to make sure the next ball
almost always takes a wicket?
A. A bat.

Q. What is the English version of a hat-trick?
A. Three runs in three balls.

Q. What do you call an Englishman with 100 runs against his name?
A. A bowler.

This from a post I wrote on 1st February 2007

Colourful language…

Reading the Legal Week Editor’s blog this morning I came across a story about the election of the new Slaughter & May managing partner. For those interested in such matters – see the Legal Week story in full – this quote gives the flavour:

“As numerous law firm elections have shown, there’s always something to be said for being an unknown quantity. Less time to make enemies, less time to get on the wrong side of corporate and less baggage – that most dangerous accessory for any prospective managing partner.”

I was more interested in this pithy comment:

“Or as one Slaughter and May partner colourfully puts it: “Hidden away in Asia, no-one would know if you’re a shit or not.”

And back at the end of January 2007 I came across this ‘gem’

Giant penis etched into school garden with weedkiller can be seen from space. Sky has the story: “The unnamed pair of Year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, burnt the 20ft phallus into the grass as an end of term joke two years ago.”

One for drafting ‘aficionados’
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?


Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


And finally…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”


Inner Temple decided to recommend a re-development of the Treasury Building (Project Pegasus).

The provision of world class library facilities for practising barristers and students in the Inns is obviously an important matter – even in this age of electronic information via the internet.  Inner Temple appears to be planning significant reduction in space with intended development on the top floor  of meeting rooms, offices and an auditorium for Education & Training.

What follows below came to me via email.  It makes interesting reading.  To some, it may be uncomfortable and worrying reading. If you are a member of Inner Temple – you will be able to make your views known through the usual channels.

“At its meeting on 21st July 2015, the Executive Committee of Inner Temple decided to recommend a re-development of the Treasury Building (Project Pegasus).  There are many issues surrounding the feasibility of this project.  However, one in particular is the impact on Inner Temple Library.

The proposal affects all members and tenants of the Inn.  If it is adopted by the Inn’s Benchers, the loss of existing library space and services will be significant:

The Library’s entire upper floor and gallery will be converted into meeting rooms, offices and an auditorium for Education & Training.

Half of the Library’s main floor will be lost to storage, equipment, and lifts and stairs to a new fourth floor extension also for Education & Training.

50 per cent of reader places will be lost.
25,000 books in every day use will be displaced.

The cost of this project is currently estimated at £21 million and will require the Library to be closed for 18 months or more while building work is carried out.

We invite you to read the Library Committee’s submission to the Executive Committee opposing the proposal (called Scheme 2)

We recognise that there will be different views about these matters. But the Library Committee believes that the Library provides a vital service to practitioners and students alike, that it serves the core charitable function of the Inn, and that we owe a duty to those who come after us, to protect and enhance it. The loss of space proposed would be fatal to the high standard of service currently offered free to members throughout their professional lives at a time when the service is needed more than ever because of the increasing financial pressure on many members of the Bar.

For these reasons, the Library Committee remains strongly opposed to the adoption of Scheme 2.  It would however support Scheme 1 which would give the E&T a new floor and facilities but have no serious impact on the Library.

The recommendation for Scheme 2 is to be considered at an extraordinary Bench Table meeting, open to all Benchers of the Inn, to be held on 21st October 2015 at 5pm in Hall.

If you share our concerns could we invite you to speak about the proposal to any Governing Benchers you know, or, if you are a Governing Bencher, to attend and vote against the proposal. Alternatively please contact the Library Committee by emailing librarycommittee@innertemple.org.uk

Thank you for your time.”

The Inner Temple Library Committee

My return to the West Coast of Scotland and Fyfe Robertson…

Here is Fyfe Robertson…. a great reporter in his day.  They don’t make ’em like this, these days.  

I am orf to the West of Scotland – Largs – to blog away, do some painting and enjoy the pleasures of my real homeland!
One of Fyfe Robertson’s video reports was from the West Coast wehere I am going to.  I can remember his words to this day…
“Here I am in the Clyde Valley of Scotland where if you can’t see the hills it is raining and if you can, it is going to rain.”
Suits me just fine.  It is 42 years since I have lived in Scotland – although I had one of my honeymoons up there with my wife.  I find it a good strategy to go on honeymoon with a wife – although it is not necessary.  It would, however, not be the ‘thing’ to leave one’s wife in London when one was in Scotland honeymooning away?
I reckon it will only take half an hour before I start talking in a similar way to Fyfe Robertson. …I will, however, buy a deerstalker hat to go with my brass eagle head walking stick with a test tube inside it for a ‘wee dram’.

The Man in a Hat reports on Lord Coke – WARNING – The story may make you ‘snort’.

There is only so much marvelling at the human condition that a man in a hat can do – but this story about “Lord Coke” is a ‘ripper’ and may make you ‘snort’ ?

Lord Coke: Top peer’s drug binges with £200 prostitutes

…And he’s the the one in charge of standards

The Sun reports :

A MARRIED peer in charge of upholding standards in the House of Lords has been caught on video snorting cocaine with a pair of £200-a-night hookers.

Baron John Sewel, 69 — Deputy Speaker of the Lords and once a key ally of ex-PM Tony Blair — stripped naked for one sleazy romp at his rent-protected London flat.

Last month he was also pictured snorting coke with hookers at a sordid sex party after asking: “What about trying the big one?”

The peer, in charge of upholding standards in the House of Lords, sniffed the Class A drug from one call girl’s breasts.

And he told the women — each paid £200 for the session at his rent-protected London flat: “I just want to be led astray.’’

Perhaps Lord Coke could just take it with a pinch of something….coke?


“It is literally the case that learning languages makes you smarter. The neural networks in the brain strengthen as a result of language learning.”

Michael Gove
Perhaps the Lord Chancellor should learn some law?  It would certainly make him ‘smarter’ when it comes to dealing with law and the legal profession? It may also be an idea for him to trust the legal professionals?  Asking for a friend…


Guest Post: Will Increased Sunday Trading Affect UK Retail Workers?

Will Increased Sunday Trading Affect UK Retail Workers?

Trade unions and politicians alike have spoken out against new plans to extend Sunday shopping hours to a full day’s trading. The changes were officially announced on Wednesday 8th July as part of George Osborne’s emergency budget plan.

The Treasury justifies the change based on research conducted by the New West End Company, which revealed that an extension of Sunday trading will create 3,000 new jobs throughout London alone, and will rack up more than £200m for the economy in the process.

If the move goes ahead it will be the biggest change to Sunday trading laws in two decades. The current law dictates that large retailers in England and Wales are permitted to trade for a total of six hours on a Sunday between 10am and 4pm.

A large retailer is defined as one that possesses floor space of at least 3,000 square feet or more. Stores with less space than this amount are permitted to open for a full day. The only time this rule was altered in modern Britain was in London for eight weekends during the London Olympics of 2012.

It is proposed that the alteration of trading hours be based on the individual needs of each town and city, with the final say being made by councils and elected mayors of that area. This choice of making individual rules at the expense of a single national trading rule is intended to allow each region to determine whether the change will benefit their local economy or hinder its economic and social plans.

Union opposition

Opposition to an increase in Sunday trading has already been expressed by several organisations. John Hannett, the secretary general of shop-workers union ‘Udsaw’, the fastest growing union in Britain, has refuted the notion of economic benefits getting generated and has claimed that the change will place unfair expectation on workers who will feel pressured into working overtime.

The conservative plan to extend Sunday hours is not a unanimous one, as many Tory cabinet members have expressed concern over the impact it will have on UK workers. Religious groups are also not pleased with the change, which could force some UK employees into work instead of attending religious services; a potential violation of their religious freedom. This could force retail employees to resign from their jobs and lead to an increase in constructive dismissal cases being brought to UK employment tribunals.

The Association of Convenience Stores also attacked the changes, claiming that large stores trading on Sundays will harm the performance of smaller businesses currently able to take advantage of existing Sunday trade laws. The organisation pointed out that small businesses saw sales fall 0.4% during the increased trading period of the Olympic games; a statistic it claims will occur again.

The UK small business minister, Anna Soubry, says that worker concerns will be fully explored, but warned that there is no guarantee the changes will be prevented simply based on employee opposition to an increase in additional trading hours.

Political opposition

Labour politicians have also denounced the plans. Potential new Labour leader, Andy Burnham, tweeted that he would stand against it: “Sundays are the only day people who work in shops can bank on some time with their kids. I will oppose this all the way.”

Yvette Cooper also announced her opposition with claims that the current model of six hour Sunday trading is sufficient: “The current legislation provides the right balance between Sunday shopping and protecting a bit of family time for shop-workers in a competitive market”.

Disclaimer: Please note that whilst every effort is made to maintain accuracy of the content in this article; we cannot take responsibility for any errors. This author is not an Employment Lawyer or HR Specialist and this cannot in any way constitute a substitute for Employment Law advice. All facts should be cross-checked against other sources. Should you require specific Employment Law advice, then we recommend that you contact Nationwide Employment Lawyers.

Rive Gauche: I can paint ‘sensible’ paintings?

While my brother Stewart ‘marvels’ at the nonsense I come up with in terms of spiderman wearing a barrister wig with a Lucozade bottle stuck on the canvas (He rolls his eyes heavenwards) – even Stewart, who is a good painter, might approve of the painting to the left which I will finish this afternoon.  In truth, I have not ridden a bicycle for about 45 years.  Fast motorbikes were my thing – The Honda Blackbird my favourite bike – had seven of those in my time. I was riding a Blackbird when I got stopped by a Guardia Civil bike cop near Mojacca in Spain at 6.00 am. The motorway was completely empty – not many drivers about at 6.00 am on a Sunday morning in that part of Spain.  He told me I wasn’t even trying as I was only doing 140 mph.  I did get the bike up to 190 mph earlier on that run on an empty straight section of the motorway, but the road had a long easy bend and the speed had to be lowered.  Just as well given that there was a cop waiting around the corner. We talked, had a fag, sat on each other’s bikes and shook hands.  He warned me to keep my speed down near the bigger towns, saying  that his friends in the Guardia Civil in marked cars were not as amusing with speeding bikers or drivers.

But a bicycle, stylised, is easier to paint than a motorcycle.  I’m not a fan of spending too much time on any one painting.  A nickname when I was at school flogging paintings to friends was ‘Risotto’ – “Ready in 20 minutes’.


As I am deporting myself back to Scotland, where I came from, this coming week, I just had to change my flag in the blog header to my version of the Scots Saltire…


The Food Judge – an excellent and amusing food blog by a senior solicitor

I have had the pleasure of meeting Nicky Richmond the author of The Food Judge – an excellent website and well worth a visit if you are interested in eating out or want inspiration for your own cooking.  I remember the Lemon Drizzle cake she made and brought with her when we met some years back.  It was a superb cake. Nicky Richmond is a polymath – she is also Joint Managing Partner of Brecher, a law firm with a fine reputation.

I’ll give you a short taster of what to expect when you visit The Food Judge – a must – and I don’t say that very often.

This, from one of Nicky Richmond’s recent articles…

Have I eaten in a morgue?

“Google the death of fine dining and you’ll see a plethora of articles telling us it’s all over. The most recent funeral oration is that given by Jay Rayner, in the Guardian, where he refers  to a survey which states that 70% of diners have turned against fine dining, linking to a headline in The Times, which declares that  “Fussy French dining loses out to relaxed rioja and tapas”.

Drilling down, the Times article quotes an outfit called Wine Intelligence who say that of a thousand diners asked, almost a quarter had ordered a bottle of Rioja in the last six months. I’m not sure that this proves the death of fine dining or the end of the hegemony of French wine. I’d be more interested to know if that was the first time those asked had ever ordered Rioja, or how many more bottles of Rioja were sold in the UK market, compared to the previous year.”

It really is an excellent food blog – and I like Nicky’s writing style – and humour.

Rive Gauche: The Great Escape to Scotland…Cry Freeeedom!

Hopefully, a week today I will be in Largs (Scottish Gaelic: An Leargaidh Ghallda)  a town on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire on the West Coast of Scotland where I plan to live out my life. It is an interesting town – quite a small place, which suits me just fine after having lived in London for 42 years. I am a Scot, educated at Trinity College Glenalmond in Perthshire before university and it is a part of Scotland I particularly like – right on the sea overlooking the Two Cumbraes.  On a good day, one may see the Island of Arran in the distance.  When I was kid, we lived in Fairlie, a small village two miles down the road from Largs.


Largs was involved in quite a famous battle.  Wikipedia notesThe Battle of Largs (2 October 1263) was an indecisive engagement between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland near Largs, Scotland. The conflict formed part of the Norwegian expedition against Scotland in 1263, in which Hakon Hakonarson, King of Norway attempted to reassert Norwegian sovereignty over the western seaboard of Scotland.

There is even a Castle Semple nearby – a ruin.

The plan is to write, paint, take photographs, blog about English and Scots Law – and, indeed, anything else I want to write about and take coffee and eat fish suppers and ice cream at  Nardini’s in Largs, Scotland’s most famous cafe – a fine building and interior.  I will not be eating deep fried Mars Bars.

I used to play passable golf.  I may take it up again and play at the excellent Routenburn golf course just up the road.

Fyfe Robertson, the celebrated, journalist and Television performer of the 1960s once said “Here I am in the Clyde Valley of Scotland where…if you can’t see the hills it is raining and if you can see the hills it is going to rain.”. He had a fine Scots accent…drawn out and almost nasal in tone.

Fortunately they have the interweb up there, naturally – it was, after all, a Scot who invented television.  John Logie Baird – as my prep school Headmaster never stopped telling us. That Headmaster made good use of BBC television – pictures in black and white for educating us.  We assumed that it saved him the trouble of teaching us.    John Logie Baird came from Helensburgh, also on the Clyde – where I went to Larchfield  School

Well..there we are…my plan until I go to the great lecture theatre in the sky.  Have a good weekend



Guest Post: Probate Case Management versus Probate Accounts Isokon

Probate Case Management versus Probate Accounts Isokon

Many probate professionals refer to probate software as “probate case management.” This is a misunderstanding of the nature of probate software. What is the cause of this misunderstanding? Most software suppliers to the legal marketplace are not able or lack the vigour to replicate the full complexity of estate administration, which is primarily an accounting function. They therefore supply the case management tools that are readily available to them which they sell as “probate case management.” Case management is concerned with workflows, mailmerging and task management. It is certainly a useful tool in the day to day management of events. It does not however lend itself to managing the finances of the estate.

The fundamental question to ask is: how useful is case management without an accounting system based on a professional database from which it can suck financial data. One discerning solicitor likened it to “trying to catch fish without bait.” The reality is that case management is at best about 20% of the estate administration – the bulk of which is financial accounting. Law firms who buy ‘probate case management’ are unwittingly selling themselves short.

You will still need a tool to log the assets and liabilities of an estate. Many firms use spreadsheets to record the financials of an estate. Spreadsheets are useful but an inherently high risk tool, in contrast to a probate specific accounting system. Spreadsheets are not inherently multiuser.

Stuck on the sole computer of the user, they cannot be used on a central server by more than one user at a time without the risk of data being overwritten by one user over another. Creating management reports with information using all data from all cases from separate spreadsheets is not feasible. Inadequate management reporting is a significant risk factor for the firm, and is likely to alarm the auditors.

The Law Society might look askance at such a practice, and you definitely will not win Lexcel accreditation.

Probate accounting involves a plethora of financial details, such as: • logging the assets and liabilities • separating capital and income • dealing with post death income and accrued income • paying the gas bill and funeral expenses • dealing with post probate adjustments • an easy way to account for an abatement of assets • dealing with capital gains/losses and revaluations • accounting for packaged products such as ISAS and PEPS • listing the market value of equities and their dividends • calculating the cash value to the beneficiary who does not want shares • auto calculating the net or gross tax of equities, gilts and unit trusts • listing the foreign shares and calculating the tax due under the double taxation agreement • constantly recalculating the money due to the residuary beneficiaries

These accounting functions clearly require a dedicated probate accounting system. By contrast a spreadsheet is a blunt instrument. Only an experienced practitioner with a depth of knowledge can manage this work in such a manner. An experienced probate practitioner could even hypothetically manage the work on the back of an envelope. Not of course a recommended practice. Financial information needs to be held in such a manner that it can easily be understood by any other member of the team. In an efficiently run firm, work needs to be easily delegated to a probate assistant when necessary. Otherwise taking on new work is limited, and you will be in deep trouble if you fall ill and require an assistant to pick their way through your spreadsheet. An effective solution needs both case management and an accounting database, working in harmony with each other.

The result is a profitable private client department. A number of probate managers have reported achieving gross profits in excess of 70% for their department as a direct consequence of using the Isokon accounting system combined with an integrated Isokon case management component.


For further information please contact: Gregory van Dyk Watson, Managing Director of Isokon Limited. Email: gregory@isokon.com or call 020 7482 6555. Alternatively visit www.isokon.com

Isokon was founded by Gregory van Dyk Watson in 1999. The company has invested 44,000 man hours in development of the product over the last 15 years. The company is currently the leading supplier of software for Probate and Private Client work. It is used by 36% of law firms who do private client work. It is used by more than 2,000 individual users. Isokon is used for the most complex estates, as well as basic estates. Isokon is based on an accounting database engine with an integrated Isokon case management component.

Rive Gauche: Chief Justice and Master of The Rolls apprehend Lord Chancellor impersonator

Our revered new Justice Secretary Michael Gove has ‘vowed to combat ‘dysfunctional’ court system.  Well…good luck with that. I missed the story when it was published back in June

The Independent reports: “The new Justice Secretary will deliver a damning verdict on the “creaking and dysfunctional” court system, warning that is riddled by inefficiency and bureaucracy which compounds the suffering of crime victims.

And, if you have forgotten what non-lawyer Gove LC looks like after his raid on the dressing up box – here is a picture…

I do like this picture.  The real judges seem to be amused by something.  Because they have apprehended another Lord Chancellor Impersonator? Their hit rate so far in recent times is two out of two. 100% capture record. Time will tell if Mr Gove is able to do anything meaningful.  Friends in the profession have told me that they are ‘not hopeful’, an interesting choice of word – perhaps they were thinking about the word ‘hopeless’ at the same time as thinking about Mr Gove?  Who knows?

The Independent reported in June: Michael Gove: New Justice Secretary vows to combat ‘dysfunctional’ court system

“Michael Gove, in his first speech since his surprise appointment, will promise rapid and radical reform to criminal justice through the greater use of technology to accelerate prosecutions and to it less traumatic for witnesses to appear in court.

He is backing flexible court hours and allowing evidence collected by body-worn police cameras to be admissible in trials, as well as conducting more routine pre-trial hearings by video conferencing and email exchanges…..”

Increase in the Number of Accidents in Scotland’s Workplaces and Roads

Increase in the Number of Accidents in Scotland’s Workplaces and Roads

Accidents can happen at any time, but as is to be expected, they most commonly occur in the places we spend the most amount of time in. Needless to say, accidents in the workplace and road traffic accidents are two of the most common causes of personal injury in the UK. But two recent reports show that accidents both at work and on the road in Scotland are occurring more frequently.

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that there has been a rise in accidents at work. These figures come as a significant blow to health and safety officials in Scotland, particularly following a similar report last week, which stated that the number of fatalities in road traffic accidents have also increased dramatically.

Accidents in the Workplace

Provisional figures from the HSE show a decline in the number of accidents in traditional areas of work such as construction sites, but indicate a rise in new areas of the employment sector. The report showed a significant increase in the number of serious accidents in previously unseen areas such as waste and recycling plants, with the number of accidents in previously dangerous areas of work, such as construction sites falling.

The rise in the number of serious accidents coincides with a new report that has shown that there has been an increase in the number of fatal accidents in workplaces in the UK. There were six more deaths in 2014/15 than in the previous year, with the Health and Safety Executive admitting that it would have been difficult to match the 2014’s record low.

In Scotland, the number of accidents and fatalities in the workplace indicates a much poorer safety record than other parts of the UK. The HSE argue, however, that Scotland has fewer employees in “low-risk industries and occupations” meaning that more people are working in notoriously more dangerous work environments, thus leading to more accidents in the workplace.

Regardless of whether your occupation is low-risk or not, all employers have an obligation to keep all their members of staff safe. One of the most important obligations is to ensure that the health and safety standards are appropriate and that employees are properly protected at work. Employers must also ensure that staff have appropriate equipment for their work and are trained to use it. Failure to do so can result in an accident, and leave an employer liable to legal action.

Rise in Road Traffic Accidents in Scotland

The Scottish government also recently published a report showing that there were more than 11,000 road traffic accidents last year in Scotland alone.

Worryingly, it was revealed that there were over 3,000 more accidents in the last year than 2013 and that 200 people died as a result of collisions on the road. The report will feel like a backwards step for health and safety officials with the number of accidents on the roads rising to a five-year high. Alarmingly, in October the provisional figures from the Scottish government showed that the number of accidents on the road was at an all-time record low. The figures also show an increase in road traffic offences and a rise in the number of children suffering a serious injury on Scottish roads to over 1000 in the last year.

Of those seriously injured on Scotland’s road, the majority were vulnerable road users, with eight cyclists and 56 pedestrians being killed as well as many others being seriously injured.

Your Legal Rights Following an Accident

Thousands of people are injured every year in the workplace or in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own. Speeding, poor road conditions and negligence are the most common causes of road traffic accidents, while employer negligence and a breach of health and safety conditions being the main cause of workplace incidents.

Fortunately, if you have been hurt in an accident on the roads or if your employer has failed in their duty of care, the law is there to protect you. We can only hope that this year bring a vast improvement in the figures.

Post by 100% Compensation Scotland a new site launched by Lawford Kidd, personal injury solicitors in Scotland – they can offer a free consultation over the telephone and work on a no win no fee agreement, where the client receives 100% of the compensation they win.