Government Reforms To Sentenced For Speeding Offences

Posted by Oliver on April 20,2017

It was recently announced that the Sentencing Council has reviewed the sentences that judges and magistrates can impose for various offences.

The Sentencing Council is a government body that sets guidelines and  recommendations regarding court sentencing. According to its website, its aims are to promote

“greater consistency in sentencing, whilst maintaining the independence of the judiciary. The Council produces guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and criminal justice professionals and aims to increase public understanding of sentencing.”

One of many sentences that new guidelines were issued to courts recently was regarding speeding. Sending a clear message to reckless and dangerous speeding drives, on April 24th of this year the fines for speeding were increased, in accordance with Sentencing Council guidelines.

The current upper limit for a speeding fine is up to and including 100% of the speeding driver’s weekly wages. As a cash fine, this is up to a maximum of £1,000 – or a maximum of £2,500 if caught speeding on a motorway. After April 24th, the new guidelines will allow magistrates to increase those fines up to 150% of weekly wages – but the upper cash limit will remain the same. These upper limits will be particularly imposed for significant speeding cases, considered by the Sentencing Council to be:

  • 20mph speed limit; 41mph+ recorded
  • 30mph; 51mph + recorded
  • 40mph; 66mph +recorded
  • 50mph; 76-85 + recorded
  • 60mph; 91mph +recorded
  • 70mph; 101mph +recorded

This is welcome, as figures released show that in 2015 166,695 people in England and Wales were actually sentenced for various speeding offences, with two jailed for dangerous driving, and 166,216 were awarded fines. The average fine in 2015 was £188. However, those numbers stubbornly remain relatively unchanged in 2017. The Sentencing Council had a recent consultation with magistrates and local judges – the result of which was the increase in speeding fines. In a press statement, the Council stated that it wanted to ensure a clear increase in penalty “to reflect the seriousness of speeding offences”, and wanted to target specific offences (not just speeding and dangerous driving related).

In the consultation last year, it was felt that current sentencing guidelines “did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases”. It is hoped that the new potential fines will deter reckless, speeding drivers. Indeed, many accidents on the roads are caused by excessive speed.

That excessive speed can, in a moment, result in a tragic road traffic accident, which can leave drivers, passengers, other drivers and indeed often other road users seriously injured in a matter of moments.  Despite many public safety campaigns, and the efforts of driving schools, speeding is still a problem – and ultimately has the power to seriously injure those involved.

If you have been injured as a result of a car accident, whether the car was speeding or not, in many cases a claim for compensation can be made against the at fault driver. Following a personal injury arising from a car accident, legal action might be the last thing on the mind of the injured party – but such legal action can often go a long way in resolving the matter, seeking justice, an in obtaining compensation following a serious personal injury.

Speeding can cause serious car accidents, and even worse injuries for those involved. Such increased fines could hopefully go a long way in reducing the numbers of reckless drivers – but there will sadly always be cases of speeding drivers. Even if a road accident is not caused by speeding, accidents and personal injuries can occur only too easily on the roads.

If you want further details about the speeding fine increases, or assistance in making a personal injury compensation claim following a road accident, then our personal injury lawyers at CompensationClaims.co will be happy to advise you.

Victory As Companies Settle With Blacklisted Workers

Posted by Oliver on June 16,2016

Under law and democratic principle, it is the absolute right of any worker to join their respective trade union, and to play an active part in union politics and activism. Indeed, Trade Unions have launched many a (Labour) political career, including Lord John Prescott and former Labour Speaker of the House of Commons Michael ‘Gorbals Mike’ Martin.  It is not for any employer or industry to sideline union activists, or to treat them differently due to such activities; to do so is morally and legally questionable.

 

A long running legal dispute in this regard before the High Court was finally settled in early May. With legal action ongoing, it was announced that hundreds of construction workers (of all trades) who had been blacklisted by major construction companies for being active union members had reached an out of court settlement with the companies concerned. The blacklisted workers will now receive an undisclosed sum, estimated to be in the region of £50m. Some blacklisted workers have been awarded damages in between £25,000 and £200,000. The construction companies will also pay the legal fees incurred after four years of court hearings and legal actions.

 

The agreement was reached between leading construction companies and nearly 420 trade unionists. A further 90 activists have yet to teach such an agreement, and will have their case decided in court. With a further 150 workers having already arrived at out of court settlements,  this settlement brings to over 600 the number of trade union activists who have been compensated following an illegal blacklisting scheme run by major construction firms.

 

Construction companies would illegally run the names of prospective workers (of all trades) through extensive files held to see if the employee was a ‘troublemaker’ – a trade union activist, someone who raised concerns over safety on building sites, and similar. The files and blacklist were run from an office in Droitwich, Worcestershire, and contained details and confidential files on 3,200 construction workers, with extensive information on their working lives and union activities. It was not uncommon for many construction workers to end up on that blacklist – and to be effectively denied employment by companies and agencies.

 

Many workers spent often lengthy times without work. It was only in 2006 that construction industry manager Alan Wainwright blew the whistle. Hecexposed the existance of the blacklist, publicised how it operated, and revealed the names of the blacklisted workers on a website. That led to an investigation and article by the Guardian newspaper in 2008, and an investigation in by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

 

The ICO – a national information watchdog and regulatory body- raided the offices of the Consulting Association, where the blacklist was maintained. Ian Kerr, the (now deceased) manager of the operation was fined £5,000 for data protection offences. Mr Wainwright himself subsequently brought legal action against 35 major construction companies, claiming that he was being denied work and being victimised for his own part in revealing the blacklist.

 

Another construction worker, Steve Acheson, started as an electrical apprentice in 1969. His work history includes the Channel Tunnel and large scale projects in the Middle East. However, recent years have seen him struggle to find work. It later transpired that he was on the blacklist himself, considered a ‘troublemaker’ due to his trade union activism. Since the investigations, he has been most active in seeking justice, and has led many campaigns and legla actions against the companies invoked. Currently the Chair of the Blacklist Support Group – who represented the workers in court hearings –  Mr Acheson said of the recent settlement that “what has already been achieved is a massive victory for the trade union movement, but the fight is not over yet… Until such time that the the full conspiracy is exposed and those responsible for the human rights abuse are called to account in a court of law, we will never stop fighting.”

 

Indeed, for the last 30 years it has been illegal to dismiss a worker for their trade union activities; it is regularly considered that any form of blacklisting is also illegal. Blacklisting was included in the Employment Relations Act (1999); however, discreetly the Labour government of the time never formally brought in the required regulations to bring it into law. As such, blacklisting remains legal very much on a technicality.

 

The legal challenge raised by the construction workers has been ongoing, considering this very point, for the last four years. 30 companies (and four senior executives) have been accused of complicity with the blacklisting operation, including such major firms as Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McApline, Skanska UK and Vinci. Last October the companies named admitted at preliminary hearings that the blacklist was unlawful, and apologised to those affected.

 

After the compensation settlement was announced, the workers released a short statement. Represented throughout proceedings by the GMB and Ucatt trade unions and lawyers Guney, Clark & Ryan, the workers in their statement said that the construction companies had offered financial settlements, including legal costs, which the construction workers had “accepted as fair and reasonable”. Evidence and further details of the inner workings of the blacklist will be disclosed if the remaining group of workers who have yet to settle have their case heard before the High Court. Negotiations and the remaining case itself is still ongoing.

The Ministry of Justice has recently announced they are to crackdown on the number of compensation claims made by prison inmates.  The news comes after it has been revealed that the number of cases brought forward by prisoners has almost doubled in one year alone.

There were just under 14,000 compensation claim payouts last year, and the cost of these reached near £29 million.

In the year prior to it, litigation costs were more in the region of £21 million.  The bill takes account of the cost of legal advice, administration, representation and any payouts for claims made.

Dominic Raab, the Justice Minister who has commissioned this new audit into thousands of compensation claims, hopes to rid the system of bogus claims.  He announced: “We want public money focused on protecting the public and reforming offenders”.

Others are commenting on how long overdue this crackdown is.  The General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, Steve Gillian remarked that they “welcome any tightening up of spurious compensation claims as some of the settlements to prisoners have been ridiculous.”  He continued: “Most claims are frivolous… the MoJ appeal even to the Supreme Court when a member of staff is claiming injury, yet they appear to want to settle every claim a prisoner makes”.

The claims that prisoners make are wide ranging, from personal injury through assault to claims for invasion of privacy.

One example is of a 27 year old convicted murderer, who has sued for compensation twice in the space of two years, and been awarded damages both times to the combined amount of almost £2000.  His claims are based on his personal items, which included CDs, having been damaged by prison guards.

Another example, which if successful could cost the MoJ thousands, is of a prisoner claiming he has been bitten by a rat inside his cell.

In other cases, even where money is not awarded to the complainants, the MoJ still has to spend a large amount of money in legal defense.  It is hoped these new measures will pave the way to a more careful spend of government funding.

The Autumn Statement 2015: Whiplash Claim Reforms

Posted by Oliver on December 4,2015

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this November 2015 has dramatically changed the way personal injury whiplash claims will be dealt with.  Under the new plans, all cash payments in compensation for minor whiplash claims will be banned.

When the changes come into effect, anyone who suffers from minor whiplash after an accident will only get offered medical treatment and physiotherapy from their insurance company.  There is to be an increase in the upper limit from £1000 to £5000 for the small claims courts too.  Also, those involved in more serious crashes would still be entitled to compensation payouts for their more serious injuries.

Osborne stated the move should tackle the ‘compensation culture around minor motor accident injuries’.

The changes are a result of increased backlash against the cash for claims fraudsters who in total are estimated to cost the car insurance industry around £1 bn every year in false claims.  Currently, over 1000 whiplash claims are made every day in Britain according to the British Insurance Brokers Association – many of which are fraudulent.  The feeling is that the ready availability of money for whiplash incidents encourages people to make such false claims – and because of the nature of whiplash injuries, which are difficult to disprove, it is an easy target for fraudsters.

Insurance giant RSA’s chief Steve Lewis stated: “Our customers have for too long paid the price for a dysfunctional system that does not operate in their interests… These measures will go a long way to ensure that access to justice and care is maintained whilst reducing premiums.”

The reforms to the system are hoped to reduce premiums for motorists by around £40-50 on an annual car insurance policy, as the car insurance industry say that they are keen to pass on the saving to customers.  Whether it happens remains to be seen.

 

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