HomeLatest News

You will find here the latest news from the legal industry as well as information relating to Bott & Co and our company developments and events.

Personal injury law currently has a high profile both politically and in the mainstream media. While Bott & Co stress the importance of keeping the rights of the injured victims at the forefront of any debate, this view doesn’t always appear to be supported in the wider news coverage.

We will keep you informed through these latest news articles on any industry and business developments.

You may have seen Bott & Co client Kim Allen in the media a lot recently because of a flight delay claim that we’re handling for her.

Our in-house Client First Response Team works over 90 hours a week, including evenings, weekends and bank holidays to deliver expert advice and care to our clients when they need it most.

Meet the man who puts the Bott in Bott & Co! David Bott is the Senior Partner at Bott & Co and established the firm along with Paul Hinchliffe and Gary Froggatt in 2001. We catch up with David to hear his thoughts on 2014, what motivates him and what he is most looking forward to in the year ahead.

Bott & Co's commitment to charity fundraising is reflected not only in organised company activities but also the admirable individual efforts of our staff.

Bott & Co’s IT team work extremely hard to maintain our high standards of client care. The team plays a key role in keeping the business online which means we are able to access your case records at the click of a button whenever you call.

The shortlist has been revealed for the 2014 Law Society Excellence Awards with what The Law Society describes as “The brightest stars of the world’s greatest legal profession”.

Personal injury and flight compensation solicitors Bott & Co has been shortlisted in three categories for the awards.

Bott & Co staff were joined by the Bott Cycle Team and their sponsors to ride 60 miles for charity from Manchester to Blackpool on 13th July 2014. Staff have so far raised £1,759.01 for Cancer Research and The Spinal Injuries Association.

More than 20 employees at the law firm were joined by the official Bott cycle team which includes Roy Holmes, the current British Cycling and LVRC 50+ Road Race Champion.

The average comprehensive motor insurance policy fell by £92 in 2013 to £644 according to Confused.com’s price index, but selective price increases appeared across some policies.

The Legal Ombudsman is considering scrapping the term ‘no win, no fee’ after a recent report showed some law firms had wrongly charged clients who had entered into no win, no fee agreements.

The watchdog said it dealt with around 600 cases last year where claimants were wrongly billed for “significant and unexpected costs” which resulted in firms paying out a total of nearly £1million in compensation.

Car insurance premiums are too high and the current insurance market is not working in favour of motorists, according to a recent investigation by the UK’s competition watchdog.

The Competition Commission is concerned by complex chain of payments for repairs and replacement cars between insurers of both parties following an accident, which adds in an estimated £150 million to £200 million onto motor insurance premiums each year.

Cyclists have called for better safety education after a sixth cyclist in just 13 days was killed in the capital on 18th November 2013.

This most recent collision between the bicycle and a lorry happened in South London just before lunch time as the lorry appeared to turn left and ended up running over the cyclist with one of the rear wheels.

David Bott, Senior Partner of law firm Bott & Co will today address the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) conference when he delivers a joint speech on funding, alongside James Hunt from the Allied Irish Bank.

The conference, which is taking place at the Marble Arch Hotel in Central London, will hear the former APIL President talk about how law firms can work and operate with practical advice on operating costs and funding.

Section 69 of the Enterprise & Regulatory Bill came into force on 1st October, which effectively removed strict liability from employer’s liability cases.

The Act, which will replace section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, will place the burden of proof onto the claimant and requires them to prove their employer was negligent. Under the previous practise the employee is only required to prove that a statutory breach of health and safety occurred, which requires a much lower standard of evidence.

Four members of a gang from Sheffield have been found guilty by Sheffield Crown Court of ‘crash for cash’ fraudulent claims worth more than £250,000.

The trial, which ended after a six-week hearing heard how the gang submitted 26 fraudulent claims for personal injury when gang members, Mohammed Gulzar and Shoaib Nawaz filled a bus with ‘fake’ passengers in order to stage a crash and rake in the compensation.

A taxi company in the North East has installed internal and external CCTV across their entire fleet to prevent fraudulent whiplash claims and increase security.

Owner of the firm C&D taxis, Chris Waterstreet, decided to take measures after seeing the firm’s insurance premiums double over the last three years.

Three Liverpool men have admitted deliberately causing a collision between a coach and a car in Manchester, in a bid to claim thousands of pounds of whiplash compensation.

Liam Gray aged 26, Ben Carberry, 20 and Kevin Hamilton, 35 all pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to fraud in Southwark Court after a series of investigations by the Police’s Insurance Fraud Department (IFED).

The latest insurance scam to hit Britain’s roads involves drivers being flashed by other motorists’ lights, in what appears a polite gesture but turns out to be a trap, luring the innocent victim into a collision.

Neil Thomas of anti-fraud investigation specialists, The Asset Protection Unit said: “By appearing to offer the right of way, the criminal simply continues to journey into a collision, holding the victim at fault for turning across him, which of course, cannot be denied under law.”

Desmond Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society has today warned that victims of accidents who receive brain and spinal injuries should seek the advice of a specialist solicitor or risk losing out on vital compensation.

Mr Hudson said: “Serious and debilitating injuries, loss of earnings or an inability to lead a normal life must not to be glibly dismissed in the myth of ‘compensation culture’.

Insurers have launched a scathing attack on the Law Society’s Don’t Get Mugged campaign.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called the campaign ““a gross error of judgment” and “little more than public name-calling”. Otto Thoresen, Director-General of the ABI said in a letter to new Law Society chairman Nick Fluck: “Your campaign is a gross error of judgment, represents a deeply regrettable resort to little more than public name-calling and it comes as a matter of considerable surprise that a professional and well-respected organisation such as the Law Society is prepared to lower itself to such action.”

Chinese media are reporting that China could be set to introduce flight compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, in a bid to tackle poor flight records in the country. If the idea goes ahead, it could open up for hundreds of thousands more claims for flight compensation.

A report published this week by one of the world’s leading insurers, Axa has called on the government to adopt a series of recommendations which include imposing a three-day limit in which whiplash claims have to be recorded if they are to succeed, and making it mandatory for there to be physical evidence such as an MRI scan or an X-Ray to back-up a whiplash compensation claim.

Axa believes that its recommendations would reduce the number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims. In the report, it states that there have been some cases whereby a whiplash diagnosis has been given over the telephone by a doctor rather than face to face.

Staff at Bott & Co raised £5,000 for charity on Sunday when they cycled 60 miles from Manchester to Blackpool in aid of Cancer Research and the Spinal Injuries Association. Over 20 employees at the law firm were joined by the official Bott cycle team which includes Roy Holmes, the current British Cycling and LVRC 50+ Road Race Champion.

To conclude Don’t Get Mugged Week we look at the story of how a victim in a serious scooter accident was offered £10,000 but thanks to our personal injury solicitors secured £430,000 compensation. That represents a massive 4200% increase compared to the original offer which coincides with the Law Society’s own campaign which advises claimants to think twice before saying ‘yes’ to the first compensation payment offered.

The President of the Law Society has urged the Justice Minister, Helen Grant to delay the implementation of the new fast-track system and portal expansion stating that it is “unacceptable” that the government have not published new procedure rules for the reforms which come into effect on 31st July 2013.

The extension of the road traffic accident (RTA) portal will mean that from the end of July 2013, the portal will cover both public and employer liability claims. The reforms will also mean that there will be fixed fees for all claims valued at up to £25,000 - the majority of cases fall into this category.

The first of our “don’t get mugged week” case studies focuses on an engineer who lost his job after sustaining a severe knee injury. He ended up receiving a quarter of a million pounds, more than treble what he was first offered by insurers thanks to the help of a personal injury solicitor.

Bott & Co's Don’t get mugged week highlights the need for The Law Society’s own campaign warning injured people of the worrying trend of insurers contacting accident victims shortly after the event and making them a low offer, before they have chance to seek proper legal advice.

To mark the start of the Law Society’s “Don’t Get Mugged” campaign, Bott & Co have announced “Don’t Get Mugged Week”.

Each day will see the publication of a case studies where the use of a Bott & Co specialised personal injury solicitor has resulted in a claimant receiving much higher damages than their insurer’s first offer.

Budget airline easyJet will continue with Liverpool John Lennon as one of their bases for another nine years with the announcement that a new contract has been signed.

The contract will allow easyJet to look to expand their current list of routes to complement their newest service to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus, which is due to start this winter.

Michael Cawley, Chief Operating Officer at Ryanair has announced his decision to leave his current role in March 2014.

Originally an accountant, Cawley has been in charge of the budget airline’s day to day operations for over a decade but has made the decision to pursue “other business interests” according to Ryanair’s website.

A pregnant woman, pensioners and children were among 164 mostly British passengers who were left on an easyJet aircraft for five hours in 30°C heat on Thursday – with no water. The easyJet plane which was due to leave Sharm el Sheikh Airport in Egypt at 5PM Thursday to return to London, England was delayed due to what easyJet blamed on “technical reasons”.

The American Government have fined U.S airline, Delta a record £491,577 ($750,000) for bumping passengers off flights without seeking volunteers or offering compensation to passengers who have been denied boarding.

Bumping is common amongst airlines in the UK and abroad, and it is estimated that for every 1000 passengers that travel by air, one will be bumped off a flight. Of the 2100 live cases on the Bott Aviation files, 48 claims are for denied boarding, and over half of those 48 claims are against British Airways.

The Law Society has launched its personal injury advertising campaign on 24th June, encouraging claimants to use a solicitor with the tagline “Don’t get mugged by an insurer: Use a solicitor.”

The advert states: “Accident victims who turn down an insurer’s initial offer and take legal advice from a solicitor get on average 2-3 times more compensation.” The claims are based on statistics from the Financial Services Authority.

A new campaign aimed at informing citizens of their travelling rights has been announced by the Vice President of the European Commission for Transport, Siim Kallas.

It is estimated by the EU that up to two-thirds of passengers are unaware of their rights when travelling. The aim of the campaign is to inform people of their rights whether they are travelling by air, sea, rail or motor vehicle.

The aircraft that forced part of Manchester runway to close late yesterday afternoon – potentially costing the airport tens of thousands of pounds, has a history of malfunctions and engine failure, it can be revealed.

A Thomas Cook Airbus A330-200 carrying 325 passengers dramatically rejected take-off from Manchester airport’s runway at high speed after the right hand engine appeared to fail. Worryingly this is the fourth time in just eight months this particular plane has had problems with its right engine. Thankfully the aircraft was able to safely come to a stop on the runway and was taxied back to the airport after emergency services responded. The flight, TCX314 from Manchester to the Dominican Republic, was replaced with a separate Airbus A330-200 and departed 5 hours after the scheduled time.

The Association of British Insurers have said they do not believe raising the small claims limit to £5,000 for personal injury cases will affect access to justice. Following the Transport Committee’s Whiplash Inquiry on 17th June the head of motor and liability, James Dalton said:

“Naturally there has been a howl of protest from the personal injury lawyers who can see that the gravy train of excessive fees may soon hit the buffers. They argue that “access to justice” will be undermined and that lawyers are needed to represent the interests of the claimant.”

The images from the 24th of May 2013 are still with us - BA flight 762 from London Heathrow to Oslo caught fire upon take-off and was forced to return to the runway at Heathrow airport, causing both runways to be closed at for 3 hours.

British Airways initially speculated that this could be a bird strike, but as further information quickly came to light, it was revealed that the cowl doors had not been properly secured during the final safety checks. At least three people were injured on this flight with thousands delayed as British Airways cancelled 194 flights because of their mistake.

This US Department of Transportation announced that 80.3% of flights in the US arrived on time between January and February, down from a record of 84.9% the previous year. This was mainly down to poor weather conditions; conditions which we would class as extraordinary circumstances in the EU. It’s not surprising that this weather had the least impact on Hawaiian Airlines who had the best ranking of 91.8%, with JetBlue one of the poorest performing at 68.8% which was largely due to a huge snowstorm in Boston and New York.

Scottish football fan Colin McArthur was told he could not board his flight home from Zagreb because Easyjet decided his sporran was classed as an item of hand luggage.

Mr McArthur was returning home from a trip with his friends to watch his national side play in a recent World Cup qualifier against Croatia when he was told the traditional Scottish accessory would have to be put into the hold.

Airline passengers are used to the price of airline tickets rising and extortionate extras being added on, but with airlines trying to sustain profits during the economic downturn, how can passengers have the best possible travel experience at an affordable price?

A strike by the French Air Traffic Controllers for the next 3 days is expected to lead to one in three flights being cancelled across France. Ryanair and Easyjet have both confirmed they have been required to cancel more than 100 flights each.

The Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) has confirmed that airlines should cancel half the flights using the main airports (Paris, Lyon, Nice and Marseille) to ease problems and help passengers. They have also advised that "only passengers with a confirmed flight" should go to the airport to ease the problems. The strikes come at a particular bad time for Airbus with its newest passenger jet, the A350 due to take its maiden voyage from Toulouse in advance of the Paris Air Show next week.

Research published on Monday has revealed that young rural drivers are more at risk of being involved in a road traffic collision than their counterparts living in urban areas.

The research which was carried out by the Road Safety Analysis (RSA) and funded by Michelin and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, looked at official statistics between 2007 and 2011, and from those statistics the RSA were able to identify a number of different trends.

What Happened

On the 24th May 2013 British Airways flight BA 762 was scheduled to depart from Heathrow Airport at 07:55am and arrive at Gardermoen Airport, Oslo at 11:00am.

This is a route that British Airways fly very regularly and usually without exception. Between 24th April 2013 – 23rd May 2013 we noted that this flight departed late by an average of 20 minutes, however the flight regularly made up time and ended up either arriving in Oslo early or in a few cases with an average delay of just 5 minutes.

Heavy delays are expected at London’s Heathrow Airport after a plane was forced to make an emergency landing this morning due to an engine fire.

British Airways flight BA762 was destined to land in Oslo, but had to return to Heathrow at 9am this morning after the engine caught fire. The reasons for the incident have yet to be confirmed, with reports it was caused by a bird strike, BA have simply said it was a “technical fault”.

Air fares have dropped an average of 6.4%, contradicting claims by airlines that paying out compensation to passengers would cause them financial hardship.

The statistics reported in the Daily Telegraph represent a drop between the months of March and April, which have contributed to a drop in inflation in the UK.

Members of Parliament sitting on the House of Commons Transport Committee on Monday heard how up to 60% of whiplash claims are either fraudulent or exaggerated and that whiplash can occur at a speeds as low as 6 miles per hour.

Andrew Miller who is Director of Research at Thatcham Research told the committee that the likelihood of somebody suffering from whiplash from an impact at a speed below 6 MPH was “extremely small”. It was suggested by both Mr Miller and Dr Donal McNally that Britain should perhaps have a threshold similar to Germany where it could be argued that suffering from whiplash at a speed below the 6 MPH threshold would be unlikely.

Flight compensation lawyer Kevin Clarke of Bott & Co launched a stinging attack on the Civil Aviation Authority’s passenger compensation figures this week on BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme.

The Saturday lunch time show, presented by Paul Lewis, heard Ian Osborne of the CAA explaining that they have recovered £85,000 in compensation for passengers of delayed or cancelled flights under the EU regulation 261 over the last 6 months. Based on the number of claims the CAA say they are settling this equates to somewhere between £20 and £110 per passenger.

Claims by Ryanair that their flight from London Stansted to the Greek island of Kefalonia which was diverted 200 miles away due to it being 'too dark to land' have been dismissed by flight claims experts.

Ryanair Flight FR6611 was scheduled to arrive on the 13th May at 9.20pm on this regular route the airline flies every Monday and Thursday. After the aircraft landed 200 miles away on the Greek mainland at Thessaloniki instead, passengers became confused and angry.

After two victories in as many weeks the Bott Cycle Team are really picking up momentum as they approach the half-way point of the cycling season.

Bott Cyclist Steve Stoneman won the 57-mile West Pennine RC Road Race by a length at Clitheroe on Sunday. The twice European Masters champion pipped the other three members of the four man break to the victory after a fantastic race where he challenged throughout.

The BBC's long standing consumer rights programme Watchdog turns its attention this week to EU Regulation 261 with the lead story focusing on flight delay compensation. The episode will centre on how some airlines are choosing to sidestep the rules to compensate passengers for delayed flights.

As the only UK based solicitors currently specialising in EU Regulation 261, we're all too familiar with the majority of airlines’ stance of avoiding compensating their passengers in accordance with EU Regulation 261. Many of the airlines passengers who have approached us have come up against a brick wall when trying to claim flight delay compensation themselves.

The Martin Lewis Money Show on Thursday 28th March included a feature on flight delay compensation and specifically regulation 261 in which Bott & Co specialise.

The advice was a considered summary of the European ruling that set the current parameters for the passengers rights to compensation but we regret it didn't advise more fully on passengers options when airlines don't respond to initial letters of claim.

In our experience the majority of these letters do not obtain a response and we maintain that the option to take the case to a small claims court is an uncomfortable one for the majority of the British public.

The European Commission has today announced numerous proposals to changes in the law affecting air passenger rights. The proposals have been split into 4 distinct sections:-

1. Clarifying existing rights
2. Handling passenger complaints
3. Sanctions for airlines that do not abide by the rules
4. The financial cost to the airline

The existing law, contained in EC Regulation 261/2004 came into force 17th February 2005 and since then the airlines have tried to seek out any loophole possible in order to avoid paying out compensation.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the government intends to press ahead with its plans to overhaul fixed recoverable fees for RTA Portal claims.

Not budging from its initial recommendations in November of last year, Grayling outlined that fixed recoverable costs for RTA Portal claims up to £10,000 will be cut from £1200 to £500. The only difference is that implementation will be delayed until the end of April.

In addition, fixed costs for RTA claims worth up to £25,000 will be set at £800, while the horizontal expansion of the Portal will start from the end of July covering employer and public liability claims. Fees will be set at £900 for cases up to £10,000 and £1600 for cases worth up to £25,000.

The EU Court of Justice has ruled that airlines must compensate passengers from connecting flights who arrive at their final destination more than three hours late.

In a case involving an individual seeking compensation from Air France after arriving 11 hours late in Asuncion Paraguay on a flight that took them from Bremen to Paris to Rio.

The court ruling, which cannot be appealed stated "The fact that the original flight was not delayed beyond the limits laid down by EU law does not affect the right to compensation."

The Draft Protocols were released on 19th February 2013 and most of the Protocols are as you would expect. However there is one aspect of the protocols that would seem somewhat contrary to what practitioners might have expected.

When the Protocol first came into force on 30th April 2010 it applied to all accidents occurring on or after that date and this logic is applied to the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability matters i.e. it is date of accident that is the trigger point.

However in the RTA Protocol (clauses 4.1 and 4.2), rather than date of accident being the operative date, the new Protocol will apply to all claims where the CNF was submitted on or after 1st April 2013.

The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has told the government that the proposed £500 fixed fee for handing cases through the RTA portal may be "unrealistic."

The report goes on to recommend that the government should "give more detailed consideration to the issues involved and afford affected businesses more time to plan and prepare effectively for change."

Sharply pulling into focus the effects any such decision on fees could affect genuine access to justice, the report makes reference to amongst others, Professor Fenn's recommendations, stating "a cautious approach should be taken to the figures set out in the Final Costs Report… at the present time the most appropriate revision of those figures should be to update them in the light of any inflationary change since they were formulated.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) launched a Judicial Review last Friday afternoon of the Government's proposal to cut fixed fees in the RTA portal from £1200 to £500.

The Ministry of Justice announced in November last year of its intention to reduce the fixed fee recoverable costs for RTA claims under £10,000. The reduction is due to come into force starting from April 1st 2013.

APIL has released its response to the MoJ's proposed extension of the RTA portal and amendments to fixed recoverable costs.

The 24-page report outlines a number of concerns the organisation has regarding the Government’s approach, and releases data gained from its members regarding case acquisition costs.

The report says "APIL supports legal reform where it produces efficiencies in process and delivers the appropriate level of compensation to the injured person. Fixing costs without fixing the process will not achieve this."

A new survey of APIL members suggests that over 50% of personal injury firms do not pay referral fees, but do spend an average of £500 to acquire cases.

The report showed the mean cost of acquisition for RTA cases between £1000 & £10,000 to be £444, and a median cost of £550. The mean figure rose slightly for RTA cases between £10,000 and £25,000 to £450, while the median remained the same.

The report also showed that the average cost of EL accident cases was £550 (median) although this dropped for EL disease to between £229 and £250. Public Liability cases were also costed at £550.

Lobbying group Access to Justice Action Group (AJAG) has urged the government to wait until the decision on the small claims limit has been made before any changes to fixed-costs rates occur.

The group was responding to the Jan 4th closure of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation on the proposed fee rates for the Road Traffic Accident portal and fast-track cases.

AJAG is concerned about what it calls “piecemeal manner in which changes to the personal injury costs regime are being introduced” and is worried that the MoJ has neglected to take into account the impact of raising the small claims limit for personal injury cases to £5,000.

With just weeks to go before the proposed extension of the road accident claims process to include other injury claims was due to come into effect, the move is now being reconsidered.

The proposal to extend the RTA portal claims system horizontally to include employer's and public liability claims and vertically to increase all claim limits to £25,000, was slated for launch in April 2013, and had been criticised by many as rushed and ill-conceived since it was first announced by the Ministry of Justice.

Bott & Co asked a range of service providers in the personal injury sector, including insurers, CMCs and law firms, for their responses to statements about the current situation in the industry and the proposed changes coming in April 2013.

With much debate in the media and within the industry itself, there are clear opposing views on the changes and strong feeling about how the proposals have been decided and how they are to be implemented with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers set to issue a Judicial Review of the Portal Fees.

This Personal Injury Survey is one of the industry’s largest surveys with over 100 respondents from across the sector taking the opportunity to have their say. We’ve compiled the results below and included some of the most pertinent comments and this will form part of our own response to the MOJ consultation on Portal Fees.

Momentum is gathering behind a recent government report showing a fall in the number of whiplash claims with up to 10 per cent drops in some areas.

The Compensation Recovery Unit statistics showed there were 547,405 whiplash claims in 2011/12, compared to 571,111 in 2010/11, despite average motor premiums increasing during that period.

In addition a survey from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a non-profit organisation supporting the rights of injured people, showed that almost 40% of whiplash sufferers hadn’t ever claimed for their injuries but that 30% had been encouraged to make a claim by insurance companies themselves.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) are increasing the size of their application team in order to deal with the influx of expressions of interest and applications for Alternative Business Structures (ABS), which has outstripped original estimates.

After a slight delay, on the 3rd January the SRA was ready to accept applications. We have seen the first seven and more are in the pipeline. In the first group were Cooperative Legal Services, Slater and Gordon and RJW, the Brightside Group, New Law and others.

ABS means change. Client service will be important because of non-law firms entering the arena and this should drive up standards across the industry. To look good for ABS law firms should be doing these things anyway, not waiting for competition to come along.

A SUPREME COURT ruling will enable thousands of people to make insurance claims on behalf of family members who died as a result of exposure to asbestos.

Each year 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, and cases can go as far back as the 1940s because the length of time it takes for symptoms of the disease to appear.