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Expert witnesses in all spheres give evidence at Grenfell Inquiry

June saw the beginning of a series of hearings at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry involving expert witness presentations. The list of expert witnesses appointed by Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s inquiry is long and features academics and practising engineers in a number of engineering disciplines, architectural experts, fire officers and, chillingly, an expert in human identification, among others.

Grenfell has already led to the conclusion of one inquiry: the Review of Building Regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt. The conclusions of that review were quickly endorsed by LABC, the body representing local authority building controllers.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2018 10:06


Psychological legacy of scarring must be considered in damages

The press – and indeed the public – have been occupied recently with a sudden and huge increase in the number of so-called acid attacks, where a corrosive substance is thrown or squirted onto the victim, in particular the face. From being isolated cases, often where the victim is known to the perpetrator – who deliberately aims to disfigure – they now appear to be the weapon of choice of mugging gangs who are more and more likely to be caught if they carry other weapons.

A quick response is essential on the part of bystanders, as is the correct response. The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons has launched a campaign to educate the public, around the slogan Report, Remove, Rinse.

In addition to the burns and disfigurement, such attacks can leave lasting scars. Living with those scars can have profound and debilitating psychological consequences in addition to the physical legacy. Indeed, scarring from any source, whether inflicted deliberately or the consequence of negligence or carelessness, can carry long-term psychological consequences.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:19


Queen's Speech and Brexit negotiations set to cause headaches for experts

At the time of writing the country is in a state of turmoil following the result of the General Election. Two events were due to take place on 19 June: the Brexit negotiations were set to kick off at the same time as The Queen’s Speech was outlining the legislative programme for the government – a government that has a somewhat different complexion from the one envisaged when the event was scheduled. Both events look set to be delayed.

Both will contain elements of interest to the expert witness. While any Queen’s Speech incorporates legislation that will need to be interpreted by judges and lawyers, this one will contain the Great Repeal Bill to incorporate a multitude of EU legislation into UK law following Brexit.

The Brexit negotiations, on the other hand, will determine the extent to which the UK goes its own way. Both events will cause huge headaches for those experts, such as engineers and environmental consultants, who will be tasked with understanding just what has gone and what is left.


It’s a busy time for the CQC

The troubled Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health services across the South of England, found itself in the spotlight again last month – twice. Early in the month the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced that the trust would be prosecuted in relation to an incident in December 2015, when a patient fell from a low roof at a hospital in Winchester.

Later, on 16 March, the trust’s remaining four non-executive directors resigned – the fifth had resigned earlier in the month. The shake-up follows a prolonged scandal last year surrounding failures to investigate deaths of patients in its care and the subsequent prolonged resistance on the part of its chief executive to calls for her resignation.

An interim chair, appointed to oversee improvements, is due to complete his appointment in July, after which a new board will take over.

The CQC has also been busy completing its first round of inspections of all the acute non-specialist and specialist trusts and has produced a report detailing its findings.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 12:50


Appointment aims to preserve a tradition of justice for all

One of the most momentous appointments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s new cabinet was that of Elizabeth Truss as Justice Secretary and, by definition, Lord Chancellor. Ms Truss is the first woman to hold either post – a fact brought to the fore by the Lord Chief Justice. The judiciary is traditionally a male institution, despite strides made recently to address that fact, and the appointment brings with it both a message and a movement forwards.

Gone is the Liz Truss of DEFRA – lampooned for her enthusiasm for pork farming. The new Elizabeth Truss is a person of gravitas with responsibility for preserving this country’s tradition of justice for all.

• The MoJ is still bubbling with new processes and procedures. Following Jackson and LASPO, the introduction of fixed costs regimes and the furore over Legal Aid, there are proposals going forward for the establishment of an ‘online court’ for low-value monetary claims. The proposal, made in Lord Justice Briggs’s final report, is for a system akin to dispute resolution, with a judge making a determination. The Law Society, in its response to the Briggs report, placed its emphasis on the continuing role solicitors must continue to play in ‘helping clients navigate the new system and ensuring that they are able to access justice’.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 November 2016 10:28