Revision to 10% rise in general damages from 1st April 2013

The Court of Appeal has today (10/10/12) revised its decision in Simmons v Castle [2012] EWCA Civ 1039.

The previous decision was that all cases determined from 1/4/13 would have a 10% increase in general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (and other similar types of loss arising in tort claims:- nuisance, defamation etc).

The Court of Appeal has now added contractual claims which will also receive a 10% rise in appropriate circumstances.

It has also excluded from the 10% rise in general damages those claimants who are on CFAs which pre-date the new system (i.e. the system due to come into force on 1/4/13 under which uplifts become irrecoverable on an inter-partes basis). The court did this by excluding claimants covered by s.44(6) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The old decision meant that all personal injury claimants whose claims would have been determined after 1/4/13 would have had their damages for PSLA increased by 10%. Under the revised decision privately paying claimants, claimants litigating with the benefit of BTE insurance cover (or non-CFA ATE cover), and self-represented litigants still get the 10% rise. Current CFA claimants (i.e. those represented on what will, I suspect, soon become known as “old-style” CFAs) do not get the 10% rise. Rather they have the benefit of not having to meet any CFA uplift from their damages.

The new judgment is reported at [2012] EWCA Civ 1288 and is available here.

The key paragraph is this:-

“Accordingly, we take this opportunity to declare that, with effect from 1 April 2013, the proper level of general damages in all civil claims for (i) pain and suffering, (ii) loss of amenity, (iii) physical inconvenience and discomfort, (iv) social discredit, (v) mental distress, or (vi) loss of society of relatives, will be 10% higher than previously, unless the claimant falls within section 44(6) of LASPO. It therefore follows that, if the action now under appeal had been the subject of a judgment after 1 April 2013, then (unless the claimant had entered into a CFA before that date) the proper award of general damages would be 10% higher than that agreed in this case, namely £22,000 rather than £20,000”.”

Matthew White

St John’s raises £6,500 from charity ball for AvMA

St John’s Chambers hosted an extremely successful charity ball on Friday 28th September at the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, raising a fantastic sum of £6,500, for AvMA to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

The event was sponsored by Foot Anstey, Frenkel Topping and Wesleyan for Lawyers and it attracted over 180 legal professionals throughout the South West.

Earlier this year we also organised a golf day at The Bristol Golf Club sponsored by Withy King which raised £4,000, bringing the total monies to-date to £10,500 for this worthy cause.

Peter Walsh Chief Executive AvMA says: “The funds raised for AvMA by St John’s Chambers will directly support local families and patients across the South West who have been traumatised by a medical accident and will help to ensure that patient safety remains high on the agenda in the region. Without the tireless fundraising efforts of St John’s Chambers and others like them the impact of AvMA’s patient safety work would be significantly reduced and we are hugely grateful to them.”

St John’s Chambers would like to say a huge thank you to Scott Law who printed the  programmes for the ball, as well as thanking the local companies who have been extremely generous in donating prizes prizes for the raffle and auction.

We would particularly like to say a big thank you to all those who supported us in raising much needed funds for our chosen charities.

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is the independent charity which promotes better patient safety and justice for people who have been affected by a medical accident.

A legal right to gay marriage? – latest article from Andrew Commins

Andrew ComminsAndrew Commins member of our Family Finance, ToLATA & Inheritance Team has recently written an article for Family Law Week.

The article analyses the legal issues relating to the question of gay marriage.

Download article: A legal right to gay marriage?
View: Andrew Commins’ profile

St John’s Chambers shortlisted for ‘Regional Set of the Year’ (Chambers Bar Awards)

St John’s Chambers is delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for ‘Regional Set of the Year’ at the 2012 Chambers Bar Awards.

The awards, hosted by Chambers & Partners, reflect both pre-eminence in key practice areas, and achievements over the last 12 months, including notable work, strategic growth, excellence in client service, and contribution to the legal profession.

This position clearly illustrates that St John’s has earned its reputation as a leading multi disciplinary set, this success follows on from Chambers being awarded “Chambers of the Year” for the second year running at the Bristol Law Society annual awards.

The 2012 Chambers Bar Awards will be held at The London Hilton on Park Lane on Thursday 25th October 2012.

Robin Tolson QC acts in hair-strand testing case

Robin Tolson QCRobin Tolson QC has acted on behalf of Wragge & Co in the case of Bristol City Council v A and A, and SB and CB, and Concateno and Trimega (interveners) [2012] EWHC 2548 (Fam).

An erroneous hair-strand test conducted by Trimega pursuant to its instruction within care proceedings purported to show the mother was continuing with her addiction to hard drugs. A second test undertaken by Concateno/Trichotech produced a different result demonstrating – as it later transpired correctly – that she had ceased taking drugs some while before. Faced with an obvious conflict the court invited both drug testing companies to intervene. The matter was transferred for hearing before the President. On the morning of the trial, Trimega admitted human error on its part and agreed to pay all of Trichotech’s costs. It was directed to file a report explaining the error. Once filed, Trichotech did not accept that the report was accurate or correctly explained the error as emanating from the person collecting the sample of the mother’s hair. Trichotech argued that mistakes must have occurred within Trimega’s own laboratories, which were not accredited to the “gold” standard.

The remaining drug testing issues were adjourned to Baker J.  The outcome of the case was that the judge recorded 4 propositions as to the accuracy of hair-strand testing for drugs but decided not to investigate the matter further.

Robin Tolson QC, for Trichotech argued that the hair sample test for drugs was, unlike its counterpart for alcohol, well-established and accurate if carried out by a reputable, accredited laboratory. The errors in question could not be said to be limited to the collection of the sample but may have arisen in the laboratory and on any view went undetected through system failures. Trimega’s approach, suggesting inaccuracy in the testing process, risked “throwing out the drug testing industry’s healthy baby with the bathwater that was Trimega’s own”. The court should accept 4 propositions that were agreed between the interveners.

They were:

a. The science is now well-established and not controversial.
b. A positive identification of a drug at a quantity above the cut-off level is reliable as evidence that the donor has been exposed to the drug in question.
c. Sequential testing of sections is a good guide to the pattern of use revealed. d. The quantity of drug in any given section is not proof of the quantity actually used in that period but is a good guide to the relative level of use (low, medium, high) over time.

Piers Pressdee QC for Trimega argued that, whether the report was accurate or not, any further enquiry could not or should not take place within the care proceedings as it would be disproportionate.

Download: Judgment
Robin Tolson’s profile 

Legal 500 identify St John’s Chambers as a top tier set

“St John’s Chambers is an excellent modern set where the quality of the barristers is excellent.” Legal 500 (2012)

St John’s Chambers is listed in the six main areas of law in the 2012 edition of Legal 500. These rankings clearly illustrate that St John’s has earned its reputation as a leading multi disciplinary set.

  • Commercial, insolvency and property
  • Construction, planning, licensing and environmental
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Health and safety, and regulatory
  • Personal injury and clinical negligence

To view the latest recommendations, please click here.

Stephanie Cope has been appointed a District Judge

St John’s Chambers congratulate Stephanie Cope on her appointment as a District Judge.

Stephanie has been a member of our Personal Injury Practice Group since 2009 and will be leaving Chambers to begin sitting full time on 1st October 2012, and will be spending her time at Weston-Super-Mare and Bristol County Courts.

For further information or assistance, please contact her clerks, who will be pleased to assist.

Jody Atkinson, Family Barrister reviews latest edition of the Child Support Handbook

Jody AtkinsonJody Atkinson has recently reviewed the 20th edition of the Child Poverty Action Group’s Child Support Handbook 2012/2013.

You can read his review on Lucy Reed’s family law blog Pink Tape by clicking here.

It is anticipated that various members of the family team will be posting reviews on an assortment of publications to feature on Pink Tape.

To see all book reviews published so far click here.

View: Jody Atkinson’s profile
View: Lucy Reed’s profile

Fatal accidents: latest article from David Regan

David ReganDavid Regan, member of the Personal Injury Practice Group, has recently written an article for the Personal Injury Law Journal.

David Regan considers the basis of awards and common pitfalls.

Download article: Fatal Accidents
View: David Regan’s profile

Headway Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference – Bristol

Wednesday October 31, 2012 – Wednesday October 31, 2012

College Green

Map and Directions | Register


St John’s Chambers Personal Injury Practice Group will be hosting its 2nd annual full day conference in Bristol, focusing on brain injury rehabilitation. All funds raised from this event will be donated to national brain injury charity, Headway. Returning to speak at the conference will be leading Consultant Neuropsychiatrist Dr Holloway.

Topics include:

  • “Once the emergency is over”- rehabilitation pathways after traumatic brain injury
    Dr John Holloway, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
  • Brain injury and challenging behaviour: principles of rehabilitation
    Dr Bruce D M Scheepers, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
  • Post traumatic epilepsy: risks and management
    Dr Jonathan Bird, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist
  • Case management: law and practice
    Christopher Sharp QC, St John’s Chambers
  • Family breakdown and personal injury –  a review of the treatment of personal injury damages on divorce and acting for vulnerable clients
    Alison Hawes, Partner, Irwin Mitchell
  • An insurer’s perspective of rehabilitation
    David Fisher, Catastrophic and Injury Claims Technical Manager, AXA Insurance
  • How Headway can make a difference
    Sue Best, Headway Acute Trauma Support Nurse
  • Legal issues arising during rehabilitation
    Richard Stead, Barrister, St John’s Chambers

CPD: 6 hours
Cost: £100 + VAT (this includes attendance at the drinks reception, full course pack and refreshments)

Download: Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference Programme

Drinks Reception – sponsored by  Frenkel Topping

Tuesday, 30th October 2012, 6.00 pm – 8.00 pm Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol

St John’s Chambers, Headway and Frenkel Topping invite you to attend the Drinks Reception where you will meet members of the Headway team. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the charity’s recent activities and the people driving them. Fine wines and canapés will be served.

If you are unable to attend the conference but would like to come along to the drinks reception, there will be a charge of £10.