Understanding British Justice

A series of videos explain how British Justice works explained by the Supreme Justices – Watch them here……

You are in overall command of your side of the dispute.

In the early stages, you are likely to be weakened mentally by your situation.

Take care not to play into the hands of your employers.

  • If you demonstrate insubordination, this can lead to termination of your contract.
  • If you put your case in the public arena, this may be seen as disclosing employer confidentiality and can also lead to termination of your contract.

Keep a file of all correspondence.

You will be surprised how quickly the documents will accumulate.

  • Keep all your documents in chronological order and in one file.

Legal Advisers

You may believe that all you have to do is to place your details in the capable hands of your legal advisors and they will skilfully sort it all out for you.

However:-

  • Most legal advisors, even those in the medical area of legal practice, have very little if any medical knowledge and if they do, it is almost certainly not in your area of expertise.
  • None of them will recall the facts of your case in the same detail as you.

Pro Bono Advice (No Cost)

In the event that you have inadequate legal support, there are some organisations that may be able to help you on a Pro Bono basis.

Some solicitors may work on a “No Win – No Fee basis” but there could only be a ‘Fee’ if litigation is likely. These can be found with a Search for example – “Employment Law Solicitors – No win no fee”.

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Free (Pro Bono) Legal Advice

Pro-Bono Legal Advice for the Public

A local legal academic unit near you may offer pro bono legal advice.

Read more about free (pro bono) legal advice in your area.

Some solicitors and barristers may consider providing advice on a Pro Bono basis:

 The Bar Pro Bono Unit is a charity which helps to find pro bono (free) legal assistance from volunteer barristers.

– See more at: http://www.barprobono.org.uk

You must be proactive.

  • You must come up with ideas, whether self-generated, or provided by other sources, and put them to your advisers for clarification.
  • Some legal advisers may choose to speak with you on the telephone rather than in writing / email. This is often well meaning but as with medical notes, if it is not written, you have no evidence. There are times when you may consider it appropriate to minute the advice being given and then email it through to your adviser so that it is documented.
  • If a letter needs to be sent to your employer, consider drafting it yourself and running it as a draft past your legal advisor. This will ensure that it will include all the points you wish to make whilst ensuring that it does not compromise your position legally.

Read more practical advice……

 Legal Issues

When a doctor believes his employer has acted inappropriately – against their duty of care – it may seem that laws of tort may come into play. However, in the majority of such situations, it is contract law rather than tort law that purtains. According to Wikipedia:- “A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong. Tort law deals with situations where a person’s behaviour has unfairly caused someone else to suffer loss or harm. A tort is not necessarily an illegal act but causes harm and therefore the law allows anyone who is harmed to recover their loss. Tort law is different to criminal law, which deals with situations where a person’s actions cause harm to society in general. A claim in tort may be brought by anyone who has suffered loss.”

There are some useful websites and videos that explain a little on tort law such as:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6ynTbY944Q

One useful website on contract law is – http://www.lawofcontract.co.uk/form/index.php – there is a small monthly subscription.

A senior member of our group has recommended “Employment Law in Context” by Brian Willey as a useful introduction.

Professional Indemnification

Several, and perhaps the majority, of DSG members have experienced problems with obtaining medical indemnification when they have been in a position to return to clinical practice. Usually, the doctor has been cleared of wrong-doing and it comes as a surprise that their previous indemnifiers decline re-commencing their policy. The indemnifiers typically decline the indemnification and if asked for an explanation, they reply that it is in their constitution that

  • the policy is reviewed annually
  • and they do not have to give a reason for declining.

In these circumstance, it is appropriate to contact the other main professional indemnifiers for doctors which include MDU, MDDUS and MPS.

If indemnification cannot be obtained, your local insurance broker would be a reasonable place to begin.

The DSG has been approached by JamesHallam (wai.chan@jameshallam.co.uk) as a potential source for ‘individuals that are struggling to obtain insurance cover from the defence union.’ A contact  is available on 0207 9777 858

High Court Actions – After the Event Insurance

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High Court action can be devastatingly expensive leading to bankrupcy.

High Court actions can turn into a financial disaster. It is a case of winner takes all. If an NHS employer loses the first round, members of the DSG have found that the employer will tend to appeal at least once. NHS managers fund these cases from the public purse. Doctors who take employers to the High Court will have to fund any losses which could lead to bankruptcy. It would be unusual for Medical Protection Societies or the BMA to fund High Court Actions initiated by their members. The loser of a High Court action is usually responsible for the other side’s legal expenses as well as his own. Typically, these will be in excess of £250,00 and with appeals between £500,000 and £1 million.

The DSG would recommend exploring ‘After the Event’ Insurance‘ which should include cover in the event of a win that goes to appeal and the original decision is overturned.