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Dr Bashir Qureshi. Expert Witness in Cultural, Religious & Ethnic issues in Litigation and also in GP Clinical Negligence, London.

Expert Witness Blog

Legal sector carries on as 'new normal' during coronavirus pandemic

Legal sector carries on as 'new normal' during coronavirus pandemic

Since the last issue of Your Expert Witness, when we were in limbo as to where the coronavirus outbreak was going, the COVID-19 crisis has infiltrated all aspects of life – including in the legal sector. It did not take long for the Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to suspend all but the most urgent of hearings, before devising ways of carrying out more routine hearings.

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Expert Witness News

Family court expert report draws two cheers

Family court expert report draws two cheers

Criticism from lawyers, judges and the press may be deterring health professionals from being expert witnesses in family cases. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, warned back in 2018 that the supply of expertise was ‘drying up’.

In autumn 2018 Sir Andrew established a working group to identify the scale of the problem, to look at the causes and to identify possible solutions. Mr Justice Williams was appointed to chair the group with representation from the judiciary, legal profession, royal medical colleges and other interested bodies.

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Expert Witness Legal News

How can the Paralegal Sector help law firms get back on their feet, post Covid-19? By Amanda Hamilton, NALP

How can the Paralegal Sector help law firms get back on their feet, post Covid-19? By Amanda Hamilton, NALP

As we all know, Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown has affected our lives in many ways and forced many law firms into hardship.

Some practices are in a catch 22, wondering whether or not to invest in remote working facilities when their financial situation is so vulnerable. I’m aware of one commercial business owner that has 300 employees and a massive weekly payroll. She has to make just that decision: should she financially invest in supplying internet, computers and phones for them to work at home when there is little/no income coming in? Furthermore, there is the knowledge that this situation will not last indefinitely.

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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Lawyer warns construction companies of the challenges of  ‘virtual mediation’ as a result of Covid-19

Lawyer warns construction companies of the challenges of ‘virtual mediation’ as a result of Covid-19

Organisations that are looking to use mediation as a way to resolve a dispute without the need for costly litigation need to be aware of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the process in the coming months, and the potential pitfalls and challenges. This is according to Ian Timlin, a specialist dispute resolution and commercial litigation lawyer at Conexus Law, who cautions that the new process may not be as effective and is also less secure unless certain measures are put in place.

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Expert Witness : Criminal

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

Vulnerable offenders with mental health, alcohol and substance abuse problems are increasingly being diverted from short-term custodial sentences and towards treatment that aims to tackle the causes of their offending.

In the pilot areas – Birmingham, Plymouth, Sefton, Milton Keynes and Northampton – psychologists are working collaboratively with the existing panels of justice and health officials. Together, the professionals ensure that magistrates and judges have the information they need to determine whether an offender should be required to receive treatment for their mental health, alcohol or drug issues.

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Expert Witness : Medico Legal

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

In September the Ministry of Justice published the results of a consultation on medical reporting within the package of whiplash and small claims track reforms – due to be implemented in April next year for road traffic cases. The consultation ran for a month in April-May, and the resultant document sets out the government’s policy choices.

It is, however – as seems par for the course in this area – very light on detail. That is the conclusion of Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at law firm BLM.

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Expert Witness : Technology

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

The government has confirmed it will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.

At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text.

However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued that the activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.

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Expert Witness : Environment

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The British Safety Council welcomed the news of the High Court quashing the verdict of the 2014 inquest into the death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who suffered a fatal asthma attack. Her mother Rosamund has since campaigned for a fresh inquest, believing Ella’s death was caused by high levels of air pollution near her home in southeast London. It means that Ella could become the first person in the UK to have air pollution mentioned as a contributory factor on her death certificate.

Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, commented: “The ruling of the High Court is proof that since 2014 we have become much better informed about the dangers of air pollution. Air poll...

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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr Debbie Marsden, a leading equestrian expert with over 20 years professional experience of expert witness work, offers some advice on selecting the right expert in cases involving animals

In animal related cases, a veterinary surgeon is often the best expert, being generally regarded as an authority on animals and easily recognised by the word ‘veterinary’ – a protected title – and the letters MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) after various degrees.

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Parliament, Legislation And Public Sector

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

The Law Society of England and Wales has criticised the decision to exempt the Home Office from data access rules in the new Data Protection Act, which implements the widely-publicised GDPR. The move will inevitably lead to miscarriages of justice, the society has warned.

Law Society president Joe Egan said the immigration exemption in the legislation stripped accountability from Home Office decision making.

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Expert Witness: Events

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

On 8 November Bond Solon held the 25th Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference at Church House in Westminster. Demand for the conference had been particularly high, leading to a fully-booked event. Nearly 500 expert witnesses were in attendance and there were over 50 expert witnesses on the waiting list.

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CybSafe to place cyber security training at the heart of Law Society’s services for its members

CybSafe, the GCHQ-accredited cyber security training platform, today announces a partnership with the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors, placing cyber security training at the heart of the Law Society’s information security marketplace. As one of just five certified partners of the Law Society, CybSafe will help to inform the Law Society’s future cyber security training for its members.

Law firms must continue to safeguard the highly sensitive information they work with on a day-to-day basis. According to the Law Society, effective training is essential to combat the substantial and credible threat to the cyber security of UK law firms from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

The partnership will enable Law Society members to better prepare and prevent against the reputational, regulatory and financial risks of cyber attacks. The digitisation of the courts, the increasingly digital work that law firms do, as well as the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation which will set large fines for data breaches, mean greater focus on cyber security for vital sectors such as the legal industry.

Oz Alashe, CEO, CybSafe, said: “Data breaches are a significant and present threat to law firms across the country due to the mass of sensitive client data they hold on their systems. The Law Society’s partnership with CybSafe is an indication of the proactive and precautionary approach to information security the Law Society is encouraging its members to take.

“Lawyers handle data that is a prime target for attackers. Cyber security training, now more than ever, needs to be a permanent item on the agendas of law firms. Staff need to have the knowledge to recognise and prevent cyber-threats, which can circumvent security software.”

CybSafe already works with companies from within the legal sector to ensure company-wide security. An example of this is Thrings, a top 100 law firm, that began working with CybSafe in June 2017.

Simon Holdsworth, Managing Partner at Thrings said; “Cyber attacks are rising at an unprecedented rate and becoming increasingly sophisticated. As a law firm, we take the protection of our own and our clients’ data extremely seriously. Managing our infrastructure in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible is vital and CybSafe has played an important part in our information security strategy.

“We found the training highly relevant and user-friendly. In the on-going war on cyber attacks, it has made a positive difference to the company and given our people a clear insight into how they can manage the risks we face every day.”

The Law Society represents 135,000 practising solicitors, 10,000 law firms in England & Wales. The society represents, promotes and supports solicitors.

For further information visit www.cybsafe.com/en-gb