Can you afford access to Justice

The Ministry of Justice is changing the way people can bring a claim if they have been injured. An injured party would not be able to keep 100% of the compensation they are due but would have to pay their own legal costs.

The Ministry of Justice suggests the changes to the regulations in relation to Personal Injury claims will encourage injured parties to liaise directly with an insurance company to secure their much needed compensation. Unfortunately evidence shows that there is a real risk that insurers will settle claims at an undervalue, meaning that the injured party loses out.

  • A report from the Financial Services Authority in 2009 found that injured people were awarded 274.95% more compensation if they obtained independent legal advice and assistance in bringing a claim.
  • Research commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers found that 70% of people would not know how to calculate how much they should claim for an injury.
  • Many would find dealing direct with a large insurance company daunting.

The Law Society is not alone in believing that these will restrict access to justice. It is not just road accident victims who will be affected but also victims of accidents at work and tripping and slipping claims against the Local Authority. In 2010 87,530 people made a personal injury claim following an accident at work. If the Ministry of Justice’s proposals had been in place at the time, then many of those people would not have received the compensation they required in order to assist recovery.

Can you afford not to ask for legal advice to recover compensation for injury suffered as a result of an accident?

If you have had an accident it is important that you see a Solicitor as soon as possible before the proposed changes come into effect.

Hartley & Worstenholme Solicitors

Family Legal Aid - What you need to know

It may not have been given too much attention in the national media, but legal aid will soon be changing drastically due to the implementation of The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

From the 31st January 2013, firms which deal with civil matters under Legal Aid schemes will be forced to drastically reduce the amount of Legal Aid cases they can take on, specifically matters on divorce, children, including contact and residence (formerly known as access and custody), co-habitation and other family issues. From April this will be reduced again.

The final rules have not yet been published, but it is likely that nobody, regardless of income or benefit status, will be able to claim Legal Aid for any matrimonial or family matters. Legal Aid may still be available, however, if the case falls in the public law domain (such as adoption or when children are taken into care),if there have been allegations of domestic violence or harm to the children.

These cuts have been heavily criticised in the media, by the courts and by the House of Lords, but the government seems set on them going ahead.

Many feel that the cuts will expose the most vulnerable people to even greater risk. A recent report by an Independent Commission of Inquiry into legal aid on the proposed changes said that those at the greatest risk include the elderly, the disabled, the abused, children and the mentally ill. The changes will mean that those people may no longer be able to enforce their rights.

There are also concerns that this may lead to an increase of people acting for themselves at court, which will cause the court system to clog up with cases which could be dealt with relatively simply, creating a back-log and increasing time and costs. Further, there is a belief by some that the requirement of an element of domestic violence will lead to an increase in false claims of domestic violence, causing difficulty for the police and for solicitors’ firms, as well as undermining the plight of those who are genuinely in danger.

In response to the cuts, some firms are taking new steps in an effort to prepare people for the changes.

At Hartley & Worstenholme, for example, we now have free legal drop-in clinics. At our Pontefract office our clinic deals with matrimonial and family matters and is open from 4.30pm-6.30 pm every Wednesday. At our Castleford office, we offer advice for family and litigation matters (including personal injury) on every Tuesday evening from 4.30pm-6.30pm. The clinics allow people to come for free initial advice, and allows us to explain the action that needs to be taken without people feeling pressured.

We are still here to help, but if you have a matter and need the assistance of Legal Aid, we urge you to not delay, make an appointment to see someone as soon as possible. At Hartley & Worstenholme we are ready and willing to take your matter on, to ensure that you get the best result possible.

For up to date information on this developing issue please keep an eye on our website.

Website: www.hartley-worstenholme.co.uk

Telephone: 01977 732222

Will Aid makes over £3,000 for charity

Hartley & Worstenholme Solicitors have helped raise a record sum of £3,525 for Will Aid this year.

Solicitors in the private client team at Hartley & Worstenholme’s Castleford and Pontefract offices drafted almost 50 wills free of charge throughout November to reward generous donations to the Will Aid charity.

Will Aid supports 8 diverse charities, including Age UK, the British Red Cross, the NSPCC and Sightsavers. Almost 80,000 enquiries were received by Will Aid across the UK this year – the highest number of enquiries since the charity was founded in 1988!

Meg Andrews, a partner at Hartley & Worstenholme, said ‘I helped raise the profile of Will Aid in October in a radio interview with Wes Butters on Radio Leeds but we received a greater response following the item in the Pontefract & Castleford Express in November. The firm’s involvement in Will Aid represents Hartley & Worstenholme’s continued commitment to supporting charities both locally and nationally.

Making a properly-drafted will is the best way to make sure that loved ones are provided for after your death and that the most suitable people are appointed as guardians for your children should anything happen to you whilst they are young. Gifts can also be made in your will to ensure that your favourite charity or cause continues to receive support from you even after you pass away.

Whilst the deadline to take advantage of the Will Aid scheme has now passed, Hartley & Worstenholme continue to offer highly competitive rates for those wishing to make a will and ensure their estate is administered properly after death. To book an appointment at either Castleford or Pontefract, call 01977 732222, or visit www.hartley-worstenholme.co.uk.

 

Hartley & Worstenholme Estate Agents buck market trends

Despite trying times for the property market and the tendency for the Christmas period to be slow for buyers and sellers, Hartley & Worstenholme Estate Agents are continuing to go from strength to strength. Throughout November and December, our estate agents have seen solid and reassuring sales figures where other firms are winding down for the Christmas holidays.

Lisa McIntosh, property manager and estate agent at Hartley & Worstenholme, commented ‘The market has definitely improved for us this year. Despite difficult conditions, I have a good feeling about the property market and I am very excited to see what 2013 holds.

Having a combined solicitors’ practice and estate agency enables us to offer continuing and seamless support for those looking to buy or sell property. We also offer lettings and property management services across the region and nationally. This sets us apart from the majority of our competitors and also helps cut time and costs from the conveyancing process. These savings are passed on to our customers, which contributes to many clients returning to the firm again and again.’

Additionally, Hartley & Worstenholme have been awarded both Lexcel and CQS accreditation. These schemes recognise firms who meet the highest possible standards of quality throughout the conveyancing process. Tom Day, a partner in the firm and head of Residential Conveyancing, said ‘The overall beneficiaries of our Lexcel and CQS accreditation will be clients who use us when buying or selling a home. They will receive a reliable and efficient conveyancing service as recognised by those standards.’

.