The immediate positive news for 2018 is that our Personal Injury team at Thatcher + Hallam is growing! Lauren Steele has now joined us as a Personal Injury Executive and during 2018 many of our clients will of course be meeting and speaking to Lauren. I am sure that all of you will join with me in wishing Lauren every success with her career here at Thatcher + Hallam.
January and February often provokes the question of what I would like to see happen in the year ahead.
The Financial Guidance & Claims Bill is probably not a piece of parliamentary legislation that is at the tip of most people’s tongues. The aim of the Bill is finally to ban cold calls on the telephone. I am sure that together with the bulk of the population I cannot wait for this legislation to be enacted as quickly as possible-therefore ending one of the curses of modern life-where we are plagued by enquiries about accidents that never happened or PPI claims that have no validity and in any event are not the business of a complete stranger who is invading our lives from an unmarked call warehouse.
Whilst I think everyone would welcome the final demise of the cold call, there are other moves in parliament that are perhaps less welcome. The summer election last year put paid to the then government proposals on the removal of representation for personal injury claims going through the small claims court. There is a real risk (assuming that the Brexit debate does not take over everything in 2018!) that these proposals could again find the light of day. If this happens, then thousands of people will be without legal representation for injury claims in the small claims court, being unable to fight their own corner themselves or being fobbed off with a compensation package that does not reflect the true value of a claim.
There is a worrying and increasing trend of restricting access to justice in other areas of the law. I care about justice but there will be little or no justice in a society where only the rich will be able to afford to go to court and protect their own rights. The elimination or restriction of legal aid has made issues such as having contact with children unfair and unbalanced when a parent is unrepresented.
This restriction of access to the law for many people is part of the reason why my firm continues into the 30th year of our free legal surgery every Thursday evening between 5 and 6pm. It is important to all of us in the firm that the community of Midsomer Norton and surrounding area still has some free access to legal advice. We have to date advised an estimated 12,500 people at our legal surgery. 2018 will see this number further increase.
Finally, I hope that 2018 gives me the enormous satisfaction that every other year has given me as a specialist personal injury lawyer. Representing clients and their families involved in cases concerning catastrophic and devastating injuries can be extremely harrowing. As a lawyer I cannot help on the medical front, but what I can do is ensure that the accident victim gets the correct compensation to at least help them forward on the next stage of their lives. I always feel privileged that a client has chosen me to fight their case. It is however often very humbling to see how clients and their families can triumph over the most difficult hurdles and obstacles put in their way. If I can help in any small way on that journey then that makes everything I do as a lawyer so worthwhile.
William Weller is senior partner and solicitor at Thatcher + Hallam LLP. In addition William is a member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers for which he is an accredited litigator. If you want to come and discuss any claim or potential claim with William then please call him on 01761 414646 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org. The initial interview is always free.