Is the world of elite football protected from the norms of an employee/employer relationship?

footballA few years back I pursued a claim on behalf of a lovely lady who was on the receiving end of the most consistent bullying I have seen in my job. Her male dominated employer had allowed the bullying to go on unchecked to such an extent that she was openly taunted about her looks in the office. It was no surprise that after a period of trying to internalise the bullying, she suffered from a pretty significant mental illness.

I thought of that lady this morning when I read the latest in Jose Mourinho’s long standing critique of his left back Luke Shaw and pondered the question of whether it could be argued that there was any similarity. There was a time, when as a rampaging full back for Southampton, Luke Shaw was seen as the long term replacement of Ashley Cole in the England team. A big money move to the richest club in Britain followed and this was just seen as a natural progression for the player; he was after all at the time, the most expensive teenager in world football. But a horrible injury in Eindhoven put him out of the game for nearly 12 months. By this time the successful manager Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford. To say their relationship has been strained would be to say that Manchester United have an ‘ok’ history.

But where does tactical motivation meet bullying in the public sphere of elite sport? Where does healthy competition to maximise elite performance become just old fashioned harassment? Is football simply a vacuum where the normal rules of employer and employee don’t exist and does the price of a huge contract mean that players must accept whatever comes their way?

There is some history in this area. In 2016 Chelsea Football Club settled an employment tribunal claim made by the former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro just before she was due to give evidence. The disagreement stemmed from a decision by Mrs Carneiro to run onto the pitch to treat a Chelsea player, temporarily resulting in their team being reduced to 9 men. The upshot was a claim not only for unfair dismissal, but also for sex discrimination and harassment. In her skeleton argument she argued “This is a tale of two employees: one good, one bad”. “The bad employee forces the good employee out of the job of her dreams and the employer does nothing to stop it. The bad employee berates, sexually harasses and demotes the good employee for carrying out her professional duties”. Ouch.

We shall never know whether what was alleged on behalf of Mrs Carneiro would have been proved in a Court of law. However in Luke Shaw’s case there appears to be little ambiguity in what has been said. Of course players being criticised in public by managers is not new, but it is difficult to recall an example where there has been reported in the press such a consistent level of criticism of a player over a sustained period of time. Here is a snippet of what has been reported over the last 18 months:

“ Today for the second goal, Amrabat is on the right side, and our left back is 25 metres distance from him, instead of five metres. But even at 25 metres, then you have to jump and go press. But no, we wait”.

“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for who a little pain can make a difference”.

“It’s difficult for him to be on the bench because I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, with Darmian, with Blind. I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. He is a long way behind”.

“He had a good performance but it was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. I was thinking for him, when to close inside, when to open, when to press the opponent, I was making every decision for him”.

Then at the weekend in an FA cup match against Brighton, Shaw was substituted at half time, after Mourinho was unhappy with his full backs:

“I had to change one and I chose Luke because at least Antonio defensively was capable of good positioning. Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance”.

If you take away the football context for a minute, it is usually thought to be unacceptable to publicly criticise employees for their attitude or competency at doing the job. Imagine if your employer on their website questioned your attitude at work, or that you were not up to the job on their website Any capability issues usually should be managed internally through properly thought out policies. Whilst Mourinho is not the employer of Luke Shaw he is in a position of authority within the employers business.

So should football be any different to other employers and indeed is it? Of course we only get snapshots in the press and don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. However what would be the position if Luke Shaw was to suffer a mental injury similar to the reaction of my former client? Let us sincerely hope that he does not, but in a world where one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year, is it not possible that this could happen? Is this just another issue being brushed under the carpet by football authorities ready to explode? One only needs to read the powerful words of Chris Kirkland to know that football does not exist outside social norms when it comes to mental illness.

The law in this area is complex and there is a high bar. Any Claimant must be able to show that their psychiatric injury was foreseeable by the employer. That is to say that the employer knew, or ought to have known about the excessive pressures on the individual employee at the time and that the pressure could lead to injury. Once the employer becomes aware that the employee is having difficulties, it is incumbent on them to see what they can do to resolve it. Claimants must also prove what steps or measures the employer could and should have taken to prevent harm. In certain circumstances this might be as little as offering them a confidential advice service. Finally it is still necessary for the Claimant to prove that any alleged breach of duty actually caused the harm. This is usually done by reference to an expert in the field of Psychiatry. A Claimant can also seek to make a claim for harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 on the right facts. Under this provision the conduct must be targeted at the Claimant and be intended to cause distress; it must be in the words of the House of Lords, conduct that is “oppressive and unacceptable” as opposed to merely unattractive, unreasonable or regrettable. The conduct must be of sufficient severity that it could attract the sanction of the criminal law.

Whether Mourinho’s longstanding comments on Luke Shaw could be argued to fall within any of this is very difficult to say. However it would be surprising if in 2018, the richest football club in the world is not alive to the risks that might arise from such a public criticism of a player by a manager.

Tim Ransley is an Associate Solicitor in our Personal Injury department. He deals with a wide range of cases that involve Psychiatric illness including stress at work claims. He is happy to act for clients on a no win no fee agreement and regularly instructs Simon Trigger, an expert barrister in this area of No 1 Chancery Lane. Tim is happy to have an initial consultation free of charge and is available on 01273 716616.

Learning from our mistakes and opportunities to learn

NHSNot a day goes by that we don’t hear stories of how our NHS is in crisis.  On the one hand problems are simply solved by additional funding, on the other it is a more complex balance of market forces.  Too often though, the NHS becomes a political and ideological football bounced around between people who should know better.  One thing we can all agree on though, which is that we want the NHS to be an efficient but empathetic health provider that delivers excellent outcomes for patients and their families.  Thankfully, on the whole this is exactly what happens; which is largely driven by extraordinarily dedicated doctors, nurses and support staff.

Solicitors are often seen as an obstacle to this; a profession that is taking money out of the health service that otherwise could be used to fund frontline services.  This is an easy message to communicate in our soundbite world.  The Telegraph will happily lead with the headline ‘Cut payouts for blunders or the NHS will go bust’, without even considering that there could be another way that would see the removal of the words ‘payouts’ and ‘for’.    For all the criticism he receives, Jeremy Hunt is at least looking at ways of developing a learning culture within the NHS.  Putting aside for a second how mistakes can ruin the lives of everyday people and whether they are deserving of compensation (I think it is fairly obvious on which side of the fence I stand on that one), I would argue strongly that it is the right of those people to claim for damages that has a big part to play in developing such a learning culture and reducing mistakes.  This is best shown by a very simple example.

There is a fairly dry piece of legislation that covers our places of work called the Workplace (Health safety and Welfare) Regulations.  One part simply says that says that traffic routes should be suitable and not uneven, or slippery.  They should be kept free from obstructions that might cause people to trip over.  Of course there will be plenty of employers who still to this day ignore this, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to know how many broken wrists this bit of law has prevented since it was introduced in 1992.  I’m guessing it is a lot.  Maybe we could calculate the saving to the NHS of just that one regulation.

So it is in this context that I was perturbed to see a headline in my local newspaper yesterday that resonated with me, since it was almost identical to a case where I had been advising a family on a pro bono basis.  In this instance the Assistant Coroner for West Sussex had criticised the local ambulance service after an elderly woman had fallen and then waited for two hours for an ambulance. She later died the following day.  Concerns were raised in the handling of the call and for failing to call back the patient to ascertain the priority of the call.  In my case the same ambulance service had called the patient back but had not got an answer, yet they failed to do anything more.  Two hours 18 minutes later when paramedics finally arrived, he was found dead.

Is not the crucial lesson here ‘how do we make sure that this never happens again’? Because if not, then it certainly should be.  Is it not right that we want to make sure that people don’t hurt themselves, or families don’t have to go through what my client had to?  I along with numerous others maintain that having the right to make a claim where a trust is negligent is a vital cog in improving outcomes for patients, and we should be sceptical about any attempt to reduce access to justice in this or any other area.

If you are in any way concerned about proposals limiting your right to bring a claim, please do not hesitate to contact Tim Ransley on 01273 716616 or by email  Tim Ransley is a solicitor acting for Claimants who have been injured as a result of the negligence of others.  Tim is happy to have an initial consultation free of charge and regularly acts for clients on a no win no fee agreement.

New Findings Show Cheddar Man Darker-Skinned Than Originally Thought

We’re fascinated by heritage and genetics here at Finders International, so the new findings relating to Cheddar Man grabbed our attention this week.

Ground-breaking new analysis has revealed that the first modern Briton had ‘dark to black’ skin, according to research carried out on his remains. Cheddar Man is a human male fossil that was found in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset in 1903. He is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, and he is thought to have lived some 10,000 years ago.

The new examination of his DNA alongside a facial reconstruction has revealed that Cheddar Man would have had a darker complexion that was previously thought. He also had blue eyes and dark, curly hair. Previous reconstructions of what he looked like weren’t based on DNA data.

Specialists from the Natural History Museum and University College London took DNA samples from bone powder they extracted by drilling a hole through the skull’s inner ear bone. They scanned the skull and “paleo artists” who specialise in reconstructions of extinct mammals and early humans recreated a 3D model of Cheddar Man’s head.

The Natural History Museum’s research leader, Professor Ian Barnes, said it wasn’t so much the colour of Cheddar Man’s skin that was interesting to him, but the combination of features he had, which made him look, unlike people you’d see today.

Alfons and Adrie Kennis, the paleo artists, said they’d enjoyed working on Cheddar Man’s reconstructions because he wasn’t a Neanderthal – the kind of model they usually recreate.

Cheddar Man is thought to have died in his early 20s. Scientists believe he had a good diet and that he lived in Britain when it was almost completely depopulated.

Britain is thought to have been first populated about 900,000 years ago, with the oldest fossils being about half a million years old. The country was unoccupied between about 180,000-60,000 when Neanderthals returned, later becoming extinct and modern humans reaching the country roughly 40,000 years ago. Habitation was intermittent because of the climate until 11,700 when the country became continuously occupied.

Genetically, Cheddar Man is part of a group of people called the Western Hunter-Gatherers, thought to have come from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg. It’s thought his ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East, and some 10 percent of white British people today are descended from this group.

In an article in the Independent, Alfons Kennis said the research maybe got rid of the idea we have to look a certain way to be from somewhere, and it also proved that we’re all immigrants.

Danny Curran, Finders International managing director and founder, said: “Finding out more about our origins is always fascinating stuff. Our research into family trees goes back a few generations and is usually reveals people who have moved all over the place, echoing what has gone on for thousands of years.”

A documentary about the new findings will be shown on Channel 4 on Sunday 18 February, called The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000-Year-Old Man.

If you need help researching or verifying your own family tree, Finders International offers this service. We can also quickly and easily trace next of kin or missing or unknown heirs. A list of our services is available here.

Fixed costs in medical negligence claims

Clinical NegligenceThe Government has finally issued a response to its consultation on fixing costs for medical negligence claims.

The aim, it appears, is to reduce the costs for the NHS.

Claimant’s personal injury solicitors and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) are needless to say disappointed at the response which appears to focus on the needs of the NHS to save costs, rather than the needs of patients who receive treatment.

APIL’s President, Brett Dixon, has stated:

“So called NHS never events – injuries which are serious and largely preventable – have stayed at the same level in the past 2 years.”

He continues:

“The urge to streamline costs and procedures must go hand in hand with a real systemic consistent reduction in avoidable injury.

Only then will the NHS become more efficient and only then will we see an end to the needless suffering of patients.”

This will inevitably also result in a saving on legal costs.

The Government’s attention appears to be on the wrong issue, dealing with the outcome rather than the cause of the problem.

If you are in any way concerned about the Government’s proposals which will have an impact on the numbers of claims which are being brought by claimants currently, please do not hesitate to contact Parisa Costigan on 01403 224608 or by email

Personal Independence Payments (PIP)

On 16 March 2017 new regulations were laid out by the Government in response to a Tribunal decision in the case of MH v Secretary for State for Work & Pensions 2016. The new regulations in effect excluded eligibility by a claimant who may have suffered from a mental illness or psychological distress.

These new regulations which have been rushed through by the Government without consultation were subsequently brought before the court in a case of RF v SSWP and Others 2017 and The High Court has now ruled that the amendments to the regulations as rushed through by the Government were unlawful. The case will now mean that 1.6 million Personal Independence Payment claims made in the last 4 years will have to be reviewed.

The effect of the case is that those with an acquired brain injury and those with mental health issues may now have their payments increased.

The DWP will contact anyone affected. There is also no requirement to undergo a new assessment. However, the process is likely to take several years to be completed.

If anyone is affected by these issues, they should contact their local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or the Department for Work & Pensions whose number is 0800 917 2222.

Court of Appeal rejects valuation model for residential lease extensions

residential lease extensionsOn 24 January 2018, the Court of Appeal delivered its decision in Mundy -v- The Trustees of the Sloane Stanley Estate [2018] EWCA Civ 35.

The case concerned valuation principles for residential lease extensions under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (LRHUDA 1993). One of the components of a lease extension premium is “marriage value”, which denotes the difference between the value of the interests in the flat before and after the grant of the extended lease. Relativity is a valuation concept used in the calculation of marriage value, and requires the assumption that the flat has no statutory rights under the LRHUDA 1993. In leases which have less than 80 years left on their term, leaseholders are required to pay 50% of the “marriage value”.

Calculating relativity is complex and involves comparing sales of similar flats. Valuers have traditionally calculated relativity by reference to specially created graphs, based on agreed premium settlements. The Mundy case considered a different method – the Parthenia model – which is based on a statistical technique known as hedonic regression and calculates relativity by reference to transactions pre-dating the LRHUDA 1993 in an attempt to eliminate its effect.

The Upper Tribunal Lands Chamber (UTLC) examined both methods. It concluded that although neither was perfect, the Parthenia model was defective, as it produced a value for a lease without statutory rights that was higher than the price that the lease had actually sold for with the benefit of those rights. As the UTLC put it, the Parthenia model was “a clock which strikes 13”.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the leaseholder’s appeal and agreed with the UTLC that the Parthenia model should not be used in future cases.

The decision may be considered bad news for leaseholders, as it is generally accepted that the Parthenia model reduced premiums payable for lease extensions where leases have less than 80 years of their term remaining and marriage value applies. It is therefore of real importance that leaseholders whose leases are about to fall under 80 years remaining should be looking to extend their lease under the LRHUDA 1993 without delay. Whilst the Government has recently announced1 that it will work with the Law Commission to make the process of purchasing a freehold or extending a lease easier, faster and cheaper, the timescale for this is uncertain, with one commentator2 expressing doubt that any changes will reach the statute book in 2018.

If you are a leaseholder looking to extend the lease of your flat under the LRHUDA 1993, the leasehold enfranchisement team at Coole Bevis LLP has extensive experience and a thorough understanding of the law and procedures in bringing such claims. Please visit our website for further information and details of how we can assist you.

Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market: Summary of consultation responses and Government response, 21 December 2017
Nicola Muir, Barrister at Tanfield Chambers – What does the future hold for resi? 08.01.2018

Gaps in the law

Personal Injury1) Cyclists

There are still substantial gaps in the law and a very clear and obvious example of this is the case of R –v- Charlie Alliston.

This was a case where a cyclist, who was aged 18 at the time, crashed into a 44 year old pedestrian whilst travelling on a fixed wheel track bike with no front brakes, causing a collision and resulting in her sustaining substantial and catastrophic head injuries.

Alliston, now 20, was travelling on a fixed-wheel track bike with no front brakes before crashing into 44-year-old Kim Briggs

Unfortunately, there was a gap in the law so far as an offence committed by Charlie Alliston was concerned so that he was found guilty of an offence of wanton or furious driving on 12 February 2016 under the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 2 years.

In sentencing, Her Honour Judge Wendy Joseph QC stated, from 2014 the defendant appeared to ride a bike with a fixed rear hub, such bikes have no manual brake and they are designed for track use.

During the latter months of 2015, he dropped out of school and worked as a bicycle courier, cycling extensively on London roads.

In January 2016, he upgraded his bike, again choosing one of fixed wheel design.

This was clearly made for racing speed. It gave him the power to ride faster than before.

Alliston said he was not aware a brake was a legal requirement to ride on the road

On 12 February 2016, he was cycling at 18mph down Old Street (London). He saw a pedestrian in his path and it was his responsibility to ensure he did not run into her. Sadly, whilst he shouted at her “get out of the f***ing way”, he maintained he was entitled to go on.

Unfortunately, he then rode into her. He could not stop as there was no front brake and there appears to have been no attempt to slow down or to take any evasive action.

He gave evidence in court that he was expecting her to get out of his way. He then sought to put some blame on her as he could not see any fault in his cycling or his judgement at the time. He began posting messages on social media saying that she was using her mobile phone, but during the trial he retracted that statement. He was therefore attempting to put some blame on the pedestrian.

Unfortunately, Mrs Kim Briggs was knocked to the ground and suffered catastrophic brain injuries. She never recovered consciousness as a week later her husband made the decision to have her life support removed so she could die with dignity.

Kim Briggs died after being injured while crossing Old Street in Shoreditch last February

In the words of the Judge “his cycling at the time amounted to callous disregard for the safety of other road users”.

Unfortunately, under the Victorian Act mentioned, the maximum sentence for this offence is 1 or 2 years imprisonment.

Passing a sentence of 18 months’ detention in a Young Offenders Institution was all that the Judge could do in the circumstances as Mr Alliston was cleared of manslaughter.

The Deceased’s husband, Mr Briggs, made a statement out of court calling for the introduction of new laws including death by dangerous cycling.

He stated that the case demonstrated “a gap in the law when it comes to dealing with death or serious injury by dangerous cycling”.

Unfortunately, Mr Alliston stated “It is not my fault. People either think they are invincible or have zero respect for cyclists”.

Clearly, this case demonstrates a gap in the law, which requires further attention.

The other issue for consideration here is whether or not a claim can be pursued on behalf of the husband and the children under The Fatal Accidents Act for the fact that the defendant was responsible for depriving a husband and two children of a wife and a mother respectively. Unless Mr Alliston had insurance in place to provide some recompense in the event of his being responsible for the accident, or had private means against which a judgment for compensation could be satisfied, then the only recourse available to Mr Briggs, the husband of the Deceased, would be to pursue a claim against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. However such claims are fraught with difficulties and result in less than adequate compensation being awarded.

Currently the law does not require a person to carry insurance when riding a bike to cover any liabilities to third parties.

2) Entitlement to a bereavement award – unmarried partner

On 28 November 2017 it was reported Jakki Smith from Chorley was granted a bereavement award by the Appeal Court after her long time partner died in 2011 (i.e. 6 years later).

Jakki Smith and John Bulloch were together for 16 years

The law in England and Wales is hopelessly out of touch. It needs to change to be fairer to families left behind after a loved one has been killed.

Ms Smith, said her legal fight was “never about the money”

Our view of the modern family has changed over the years, but the law in dealing with families has not changed. The law in Scotland is fairer as Judges have discretion to make awards which they consider appropriate and reasonable.

You can receive more for an injured thumb than for bereavement.

The current amount payable is £12,980 for bereavement damages.

It should not be cheaper to kill than to maim.

This is a serious failing. The law should be fairer.

Article by Parisa Costigan
Coole Bevis LLP
14 Carfax
West Sussex
RH12 1DZ
Tel: 01403 224608

Property update

Residential Conveyancing - Property News

The government has suggested several proposals to help boost the property market. The main focuses are to help speed up the conveyancing process and help restore consumers’ confidence.

Proposal 1 – Buyers and sellers to use the same solicitor

At present this is extremely rare as there is much room for a conflict of interest. How can a conveyancer act in the best interest of the seller and the buyer when they have competing objectives? The SRA states that solicitors cannot act where there is a conflict or a significant risk of conflict. As such, it is highly unlikely that this proposal will take off.

Proposal 2 – Ban referral fees

Estate agents often recommend certain firms of lawyers, but consumers may be unaware that the law firm may pay the agents a fee for introducing the new client. The estate agents’ recommendation is not based on good service and customer satisfaction, but based on the fact that they will receive a kickback. Banning referral fees will increase competition and improve standards. Coole Bevis does not pay referral fees.

Proposal 3 – Harnessing digital technology

At present, title documents can be obtained relatively quickly and easily online from the Land Registry. The government wants to ensure that other information concerning a property can be obtained quickly too i.e. public sector data sets could be released.
The government is looking at ways to help develop electronic conveyancing and embrace new technology, all in the hope of speeding up transactions.

Proposal 4 – Producing a standardised document for consumers setting out the buying and selling process

If consumers are educated on the steps involved in the transaction, they are likely to find the buying and selling process much less stressful. Sellers will understand the importance of supplying information about their property quickly and clearly. Buyers will understand the importance of obtaining their mortgage offer and commissioning a survey as soon as possible. We provide guides to our clients already.

Proposal 5 – Providing key information about the Property at the point of marketing

All sellers need to complete a ‘Property Information Form’ which sets out important information about the property i.e. whether there have been any disputes, what building works have been carried out, whether the property has the benefit of any guarantees, if there are environmental issues and what rights the property benefits from. If a potential buyer saw this form prior to making an offer on the property, they may be able to make an informed decision on whether to proceed or not. This was tried before with Home Information Packs that were later withdrawn as they proved not to work.

Proposal 6 – Increase commitment

Currently, before exchange of contracts, a buyer or seller can withdraw from a transaction without any financial penalties. The government believes that introducing penalties for withdrawing from a transaction may increase consumer confidence and increase trust between buyers and sellers. The payment of a reservation fee (paying a non-returnable deposit) or entering into a contractual agreement (i.e. agreeing to purchase the property subject to a satisfactory survey) means that it is harder for individuals to pull out of a transaction as they will suffer a financial penalty. It may reduce the risk of a buyer being gazumped – but only if the penalty is significant and enforceable.

In conclusion, the government’s proposals are a positive step but do not address the fundamental issues. Also, ensuring lenders respond more quickly would be a significant help but such a proposal has not been suggested. Only time will tell whether the proposals will boost the property market. To make any significant impact it is likely that the economy will need to pick up first.

Do you need more information? Please contact us on 01273 323231 or by email

National Audit Office Report – managing the costs of clinical negligence in Trusts

Clinical Negligence Costs
The National Audit Office recently published its report managing the costs of clinical negligence in Trusts.

Sadly and rather disappointingly, the report has placed little emphasis on its recommendations in 2001 to the NHS to reduce the number of clinical incidents.

Instead, the focus of the report appears to be solely on claimants’ lawyers’ costs.

There is a complete and obvious failure to examine the delays caused by NHS Trusts or their representative body (known previously as the NHS Litigation Authority, currently known as NHS Resolution), which of themselves have contributed to an increase in legal costs.

The report has fuelled misguided suggestions, an example being one by The Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee that, as a result of this report, it is time to bring back Crown immunity for NHS Trusts. This would prevent NHS patients from pursuing claims in negligence against Trusts.

Since the passage of The Crown Proceedings Act in 1947, the NHS has been liable for all negligent acts and omissions.

To prevent claims against the NHS would result in a two tier legal system. It would prevent those who receive negligent medical treatment from the NHS from pursuing rightful claims, whilst allowing claims to those in similar circumstances who received receiving private medical treatment.

The duty of candour was introduced in 2014. This was hoped to encourage a culture of openness. However, the treatment of whistle-blowers within the NHS has historically been extremely poor. Had a more open culture been encouraged, then such cases as those of Ian Patterson would almost certainly have been stopped.

In view of many lawyers representing claimants, the National Audit Office has failed patients with this report and it is feared that the Government will be guilty of similar failure if they base any legal reform on its findings.

There is currently a suggestion that the Government proposes to provide indemnity to GPs facing allegations of negligence. This has been prompted by a desire to encourage more GPs to take up positions.

If so, any claims being faced by GPs will also be handled by a Government authority no doubt set up to avoid settling as many claims as possible in a desire to save the NHS money.

The focus of attention here appears to be to protect the wrongdoer rather than the innocent injured party.

Article by Parisa Costigan
Coole Bevis LLP
Tel: 01403 224608

Draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

The draft Health Service Safety Investigations Bill launched by the Government creates a Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) as an independent statutory body with legal powers to conduct investigations into patient safety incidents.

However, despite this, the Bill appears to explicitly prohibit HSIB from disclosing information even to the patient who has been affected or their family. In my view, which is shared by AVMA, this is a serious infringement of patient’s rights which undermines the progress that has been made with the introduction of the concept of duty of candour and efforts to create an open and fair culture. This was intended to encourage openness with patients, in particular where mistakes have been made.

The Bill is completely at odds with the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group set up by the Department of Health to advise the HSIB.

Peter Walsh of AVMA who sat on the Advisory Group states “whilst we welcome the provisions for powers and independence for the HSIB… these affronts to patients’ rights would destroy public confidence in HSIB and NHS investigations and undermine recent advances in openness transparency and a just culture”.

Currently under the Patients Charter, any patient can raise a complaint with regard to treatment received from an NHS provider or healthcare provider within 6 months of the treatment complained of and the healthcare provider has a duty to investigate and respond to the complaint within 3 to 4 months.

It remains to be seen how the system will operate in practice and how trust can be established when things go wrong.

If you are affected by any issues in this article, please contact Parisa Costigan, specialist personal injury solicitor at Coole Bevis LLP on 01403 224608 or by email