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Sharon Parsons of Coodes Solicitors welcomes World Pancreatic Cancer Day (15th November 2018) and says we all need to learn to recognise the potential signs of one of the world’s deadliest cancers.
There are a number of health awareness events across the year and they can be an effective way of getting across messages about diseases and health issues. Events such as World Pancreatic Cancer Day are particularly important because, compared with higher profile diseases, such as breast or lung cancer, there is low awareness about the potential signs of pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the EU. Sadly, according to Cancer Research UK, only around three per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive for five or more years. According to a recent scientific research paper in leading medical journal The Lancet, 80 to 85 per cent of patients have an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer by the time they seek help.
As with all cancers, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chances of survival and recovery. Here at Coodes, our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team has supported families who have been affected by a family member’s pancreatic cancer not being diagnosed early enough.
What is pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells within the pancreas grow out of control and form a tumour. The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen that lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine and is part of the digestive system. It produces hormones to help control blood sugar levels, such as insulin and glucagon, and enzymes that help break down food.
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, around 9,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK every year and it has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers.
Cancer Research points out that symptoms vary from person to person, but they list the following:
Abdominal and mid-back pain
Unexplained Weight loss
Yellow skin or eyes
Change in stool
These symptoms can have many other causes and may well be a sign of a different condition. If you are concerned and are experiencing the above symptoms that are persistent or have worsened, then you should contact your GP.
What are the risk factors?
The cause of most pancreatic cancer cases is unknown but research studies have identified the following risk factors that may increase the likelihood that someone will develop pancreatic cancer:
Family history of pancreatic cancer
Family history of other cancers
Smoking – around one in three cases are associated with cigarettes or cigars
Age – it mainly affects 50 to 80 year olds
Why research and awareness is so important
Every day, more than 1,250 people worldwide will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and an estimated 1,180 will die from the disease. Although this may paint a depressing picture, I remain hopeful that an increase in awareness and research will lead to more survivors. The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund outlines some poignant figures that show why more needs to be done:
40 years ago few children survived childhood leukaemia- now the survival rate is 80 per cent.
40 years ago only 47 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer survived five years or more- now that figure is also 80 per cent.
40 years ago three per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived five years or more- that figure is still 3 per cent.
Perhaps, if we all become more aware of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, more people will seek help sooner and we may start to see the tide turning for this terrible disease.
On World Diabetes Day (14th November 2018), Julie Hatton of Coodes Solicitors encourages mums-to-be to do their research and ensure they understand how to manage gestational diabetes.
According to the latest figures, more than 425 million people around the world are currently living with diabetes and half of those remain undiagnosed. Thanks to awareness-raising events and better public health information, we are starting to become more familiar with the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the symptoms of both diseases. However, as we know through our work at Coodes, sadly diabetes is sometimes misdiagnosed or missed altogether.
Gestational diabetes occurs in some pregnancies and if it is not managed it can cause complications, which can sadly sometimes be very serious. Here at Coodes, we have worked on cases in which gestational diabetes has been missed by medical professionals.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that is caused by not producing enough insulin to meet the additional demands placed on the body during pregnancy. In most cases, it goes away after the baby is born, though is likely to reoccur in subsequent pregnancies.
A study published in 2010 revealed that twice as many women as previously thought develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Figures now suggest that 16 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Given that around one in six women will develop gestational diabetes, it is important for anyone who is pregnant to ensure they have some understanding of the condition and how it should be managed.
Will I be tested for gestational diabetes?
The NHS offers a glucose test to women who are considered to be at risk of developing gestational diabetes. This is usually carried out between 24 and 28 weeks into the pregnancy, because gestational diabetes usually begins during the second or third trimester.
What if I develop gestational diabetes?
Being told you have gestational diabetes can be scary. However, most women with gestational diabetes have otherwise normal pregnancies and go onto have a healthy baby. The key is to manage it properly, which is something your midwife should support you through.
Diabetes UK has some excellent information and advice, as well as the following checklist for women who have gestational diabetes.
To make sure you get the right care and information, ensure you:
Understand gestational diabetes and how it is treated
Ask for a blood glucose meter and agree your individual targets
Have a Maternity Exemption Certificate or Card, which will entitle you to free prescriptions (ask your GP or diabetes healthcare team)
Know the members of your healthcare team and what they do to help you
Ask to see a dietitian to talk about your diet and physical activity
Know who to call if you need extra support
Understand how to treat a hypo and a hyper.
In most cases, gestational diabetes is well managed and pregnancies will progress well and result in a healthy baby and mum. However, having a good basic understanding of the condition and knowing what support should be given will empower you to speak out if you do not feel you are getting the help you need.
During Trustees Week (12th-16th November), Partner and elderly client specialist Louise Southwell reflects on her role as Chair of Trustees for Age UK Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and says that charities need trustees from all walks of life.
I think too many people are put off becoming a trustee of a charity because it sounds quite daunting. Perhaps it’s the name trustee – people don’t quite know what it means. I think many people expect it to be beyond them and too high powered or highbrow for their skills or experience. Trustees’ Week is a great initiative, which will hopefully dispel some of those myths and encourage people from all walks of life to consider what is, in my experience, an incredibly rewarding role.
According to the latest figures, there are just over a million trustees in the UK, working with approximately 196,000 charities.
What does a trustee actually do?
The role of a trustee will vary from charity to charity, but are broadly the same. Effectively the trustees are the governance of a charity and have the final say. They will meet on a fairly regular basis with the other trustees and representatives from the charity to make important decisions about the charity’s work. The role of a trustee is also to challenge assumptions and not be afraid to ask the difficult questions. This ensures that the Charity they serve is consistently focused on its core values.
Who can become a charity trustee?
Charities need a wide range of people to become trustees. They may sometimes require somebody with a particular skillset or experience to join the board – for example, finance experience or someone who has been a service user of the charity. I’ve often provided legal expertise in my role with Age UK Cornwall & IOS.
I have been a Trustee of Age UK Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for about nine years now and Chair for the past four-and-a-half years. I am proud that we have a very diverse group of trustees – our oldest is 92 – who all bring something different to the charity. Having such a broad range of perspectives among trustees is, I think, absolutely crucial to the charity’s success.
You must be at least 16 to be a trustee of a charity that is a company or charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) and at least 18 to be a trustee of any other sort of charity. There is some useful information on who can become a trustee here.
What are a trustee’s responsibilities?
I suspect many people do not consider being a trustee because they think it will involve too much of their time. Before becoming a trustee, it is of course important to ensure you can commit. However, it may not involve as much of a commitment as you might have assumed. At Age UK Cornwall, we have bi-monthly meetings and, as Chair, I generally meet every other month with the CEO of the charity and the treasurer. Trustees may be contacted between meetings and are sometimes asked to sit on interview panels. If you are unsure whether or not you can commit, speak to the charity to find out what would be involved.
What are the benefits of being a trustee?
In my experience, being a trustee is hugely rewarding. I think it’s fair to say that most people become trustees because they care deeply about the work of the charity they join. Having the opportunity to play a key role in the activity of that charity can be a wonderful experience.
I became a trustee of Age UK Cornwall because I felt I wanted to do something extra to help the elderly clients who I work with on a daily basis as a lawyer. When I was advising clients on matters, such as estate planning or Lasting Power of Attorney I often ended up discussing other issues with them. I got a glimpse into their lives and frequently heard about areas of their lives that were challenging. Being in rural west Cornwall, social isolation was an issue for many. Becoming a trustee of Age UK Cornwall has meant I can do something else to improve the quality of life for older people.
For example, I helped the charity to create a new service that gives older people hands-on administrative support to sort out their finances. This was something I had seen the need for through my legal work. I was also involved with a major project called Living Well, which focused on improving the quality of older people’s lives, giving the opportunity to have experiences that were important to them, such as taking a walk on the beach. The project was so effective – it was even linked to a reduction in hospital admissions – that it has been launched by the NHS around the country and is also being replicated in Holland.
Could being a trustee help me in my career?
Being a trustee gives you new experiences and can help you develop particular skills that could prove useful in your career. Being a trustee has undoubtedly made me a better lawyer. The insights I have gained have proved invaluable in my work with elderly clients. I can now easily signpost them to other services, because I have gained a really good understanding of all the services and support on offer locally.
If you haven’t considered being a trustee, or perhaps assumed it wasn’t for you, I would urge you to think again. After all, charities rely on having good trustees and that means people from all walks of life.
For more information and advice, contact Louise Southwell, elderly client specialist at Coodes Solicitors, on 01736 362294 or email@example.com
Coodes Solicitors Personal Injury Lawyer, Bob Beard, comments on the latest developments on the proposed Civil Liability Bill.
The Civil Liability Bill, which sets out legal changes to making a personal injury claim, is one step closer to becoming law. The bill is now back in the House of Lords for consideration of amendments after a narrow House of Commons vote approved the bill into the next stage. The consideration of Commons amendments will take place in the Lords on the 20th November.
If it is passed, the bill will make significant changes to the personal injury compensation system. The official line is that the proposed changes have been set out with the aim of deterring fraudulent claims and reducing motor insurance costs.
However, there are concerns that members of the public may see the proposals as unfair. Indeed, the Association for Personal Injury lawyers (APIL) says, “Those who have been injured through no fault of their own will take the biggest hit to their rights in recent memory.”
So, what are the latest proposals?
Introducing a tariff system
One of the proposals is the introduction of a tariff system for whiplash injury claims, which excludes pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The proposed tariff stands at:
for up to 3 months of pain and injury: £235
3-6 months: £470
6-9 months: £805
9-12 months: £1,250
12-15 months: £1,910
15-19 months: £2,790
19-24 months: £3,910
The tariff system does not take account of the fact that a similar injury can have very different effects on people and will usually have a bigger impact on the most vulnerable. For example, an elderly person will take more time to recover physically and emotionally, than someone who is younger and fitter. The new restrictions will also mean a settlement cannot be made without medical evidence.
An increase on the small claims limit
The proposals also include the small claims limit being increased from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident claims and to £2,000 for all other personal injury claims. This means that any road traffic accident claims up to £5,000 is unlikely to be able to be supported by legal assistance due to the cost.
The new limit will mean more injuries, not just soft tissue injuries – commonly known as whiplash – will come under the small claims limit. With these claims, legal costs are not usually awarded to the winning party. Injuries could include brain and head injury, a collapsed lung and eye injuries. Under the proposals, these claimants would have to either represent themselves, pay for legal advice or abandon their claim.
Will it lead to savings on motor insurance premiums?
The Government has estimated a saving of around £1.1 billion after the reforms are put into place, which it says will result in motorists saving on insurance costs. However, many people believe the Government’s proposals will not change insurance premiums.
There is growing concern that the proposed changes will reduce compensation for genuine personal injury victims, who will have to conduct their claim without legal advice.
At Coodes we are closely watching developments and are committed to helping anyone who needs support in getting their life back on track after suffering an injury.
For more information on these issues, please contact Bob Beard in the Personal Injury team at Coodes Solicitors on 01326 318900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Coodes Solicitors’ Legal Executive David Smith explains what you can do if there is a restrictive covenant on your property.
Residential properties are often subject to a number of restrictive covenants, which limit what a homeowner is able to do with a property.
A developer will usually impose a number of the restrictions when selling off the various plots on an estate. The reason for this is to protect and maintain the characteristic of the estate as a whole, which is beneficial to all the homeowners, preserving the value of each property.
Typical examples of restrictive covenants are not to adapt the property for business use, not to structurally alter or extend the property without the developer’s consent and not to carry out any development on the land.
How to remove a restrictive covenant on your property
If there is a restrictive covenant on your property you may be able to remove it. The first step would be to negotiate with the original developer or landowner to enter into a formal agreement to remove the covenants from the title. They will probably request a lump sum for releasing the covenants and for their legal costs to be paid.
It is also possible to apply to the Lands Tribunal for the removal of covenants if for example, the character of the estate on which your property is situated has changed since the restrictive covenants were imposed, making them no longer relevant. Applying to the Lands Tribunal will have cost implications and it is a lengthy process.
If you want to remove a restrictive covenant on your property, speak to a specialist lawyer to find out which option is best for you.
Dealing with a restrictive covenant breach when buying a new home
A house seller is often asked to confirm that he or she has complied with any restrictive covenants on the property. A seller may be in breach of a restrictive covenant as a result of having an extension built or structurally altered the property without obtaining the original developer’s consent, for example. In these cases, the seller may offer to provide to the buyers with a restrictive covenants indemnity insurance policy. The policy covers the buyers and their lender for any loss arising as a result of a future enforcement of the restrictive covenants.
Are restrictive covenants always enforceable?
Generally, it is difficult to enforce a breach of covenant after 20 years. The Limitation Act 1980 also states that claims in land should be brought within 12 years. However, the time starts to run from when the breach occurs, not the date of the deed.
There are technical reasons that might mean the covenants are not enforceable in certain situations, for instance if the land is unregistered and the original developer did not register appropriate protections.
Even where a property is registered, if there is reference in the Charges Register to the property being subject to restrictive covenants contained in an earlier sale it is worth carrying out a Land Charges search to see if the covenants did become binding on first registration.
If you are concerned about restrictive covenants on a property you are planning to buy or sell, make sure your lawyer can give you expert legal advice.
With the proposed Civil Liability Bill now in the House of Commons, personal injury lawyers are campaigning for people’s rights to claim compensation. Coodes Chartered Legal Executive Julie Hatton debunks the top three myths about the Civil Liability Bill.
Personal injury lawyers are campaigning for changes to the proposed Civil Liability Bill, arguing that injured people, who are making claims, could be facing a significant blow to their rights. This has come about despite the fact that the claims are now at the lowest level since 2009, dropping by 17% in the past year.
Under the proposed measures of the Civil Liability Bill, insurers will be excused from paying full compensation to anyone who has been injured through no fault of their own.
The insurance industry has promised that premiums for motor vehicles will fall as a result of the bill. Like many personal injury lawyers, I believe that this will not be the case.
There are many myths around personal injury claims, some of which are not founded in truth or fact, and are easily debunked. Here are the top three.
1. Whiplash claims are spiralling out of control
The truth is actually the complete opposite: the number and cost of whiplash claims are actually falling. In the period of 2016 to 2017, the number of claims fell by 10% while the costs of claims plummeted by 9%.
In fact, during the same period, the average car insurance premium increased by 9%, yet the cost to insurers of all motor-related personal injury claims fell by 9% during the time.
2. Many whiplash claims are fraudulent or ‘crash for cash’ schemes
In fact, fraud makes up just 0.22% of all motor-related claims with personal injury fraud making up just a part of that. Whiplash-related fraud comprises an even smaller fraction of that percentage.
3. Lawyers have only concerned themselves with the discount rate because of the effect on their earnings
The discount rate is nothing to do with how, or how much, an injured person’s representative is paid. It only applies to the compensation allocated for that injured person’s losses in the future, for example, to cover the cost of nursing care, replacement wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs, as well as loss of earnings.
Here at Coodes we recognise that even a relatively minor injury can have a long-lasting effect, with many people having to make major lifestyle changes as a result. So, whatever the outcome of the Civil Liability Bill, we will remain committed to helping anyone who needs support to get back on track after an injury as best we can.
For more information from Coodes Solicitors, contact Julie Hatton in the Clinical Negligence team on 01326 214 036 or email@example.com.
With a number of high profile businesses going into administration in recent months, Coodes Solicitors’ Commercial Disputes Associate Abi Lutey discusses the duties of directors, when a business becomes insolvent.
Last year, the number of businesses collapsing into bankruptcy hit a four-year high and 2018 is already shaping up to follow the same pattern. Well-known companies such as Orla Kiely, Saltrock, ToysRUS, Henri Lloyd and Maplins have gone into administration this year. Some have continued trading, including Patisserie Valerie, which was recently saved by a £10million cash injection, while others have closed their doors completely.
What role do directors’ duties play if a business becomes insolvent? And what if a director’s failure to carry out his or her duties results in a business going into administration?
What are directors’ duties?
Although the Companies Act 2006 sets out general duties of directors there is no comprehensive legal definition of what a fiduciary duty is. In the case of Bristol & West Building Society vs Mothew (1996), the Court of Appeal decision described it as ‘someone who has undertaken to act for or on behalf of another in a particular matter which gives rise to a relationship of trust and confidence.’
There are seven general duties, which are:
The duty to act within powers
The duty to promote the success of the company
The duty to exercise independent judgment
The duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and independence
The duty to avoid conflicts of interest
The duty to not accept benefits from third parties
The duty to declare interest in proposed transactions or arrangements.
A director’s duties apply from the moment he or she is appointed and only come to an end following a resignation.
My colleague, Partner and Head of Corporate and Commercial Sonya Bassett discusses directors’ duties in more detail in this article.
What if a director’s actions cause a business to become insolvent?
Directors’ duties become particularly relevant if their actions, or decisions, directly contributed to a state of insolvency.
A director could continue to be held liable after their resignation. This is most likely when it can be proved that they breached one of their duties during the time when they were a director of the company in question.
What sanctions will a director face if their actions led to a business entering administration?
If a director is found to have been responsible for a business’ downfall, there are a number of possible sanctions he or she could face, depending on the circumstances:-
A company that has become insolvent may wish to issue a notice under Section 212 of the Companies Act. This enables it to investigate its directors. If it can then be proven a director has breached their fiduciary duty, compensation is then paid to the insolvent company.
The common civil liability faced by a director is allowing the company to trade while insolvent, which is known as wrongful trading. It must be proved that the director knew or ought to have known prior to insolvency proceedings that there was no way of avoiding insolvency and that they did not take steps to protect creditors from losses.
Another action against directors can include a claim for fraudulent trading. This is where a company has suffered loss by carrying out its business with the intention to defraud. The sanctions are similar with additional criminal sanctions to include imprisonment of up to ten years. This can be seen in the recent news from Patisserie Valerie when the company reported that there were ‘accounting irregularities’ and that its finance director had been suspended and arrested.
There are a number of other circumstances, known as misfeasance claims, which cover all of the director’s duties. These include wrongly applying money or assets, making preferential payments to creditors, disposing of company assets for less than their true value or taking too high a salary when the company is struggling. The sanction is usually limited to putting right the loss suffered but a director can also be disqualified as a result of a misfeasance action.
What can directors do to protect themselves?
Although there are defences to claims against directors when faced with liability here are some steps to take to minimise liability:
Be on top of the company’s financial position by holding regular board meetings (simply being unaware of the company’s problems is not a defence)
If there is a concern seek financial and legal advice
Communicate with creditors (the presentation of a statutory demand can have a drastic effect on a company)
For more information or advice on these issues, please contact Abi Lutey in the Commercial Disputes team on 01872 246200 or firstname.lastname@example.org