Effective from 19th July, our Edinburgh office at 16 - 20 Castle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3AT, will be temporarily closed as we are in the process of relocating. During this period, there will be no staff at this office.

Please be assured that it is business as usual. You can continue to contact your solicitor by phone or email for any assistance or to discuss your case. We appreciate your understanding and are committed to ensuring that our services remain uninterrupted during this transition.

Why We Need to Keep Changing the Law

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As the largest firm of personal injury solicitors in Scotland, we at Thompsons care deeply about helping people. Our main aim has always been, and will only ever be, to help individuals get the maximum amount of compensation they deserve. Sometimes, the law does not fully serve the victims of terrible accidents as well as it should, and this is when things need to change. That's why our lawyers don’t just argue based on existing laws; they also campaign to change the justice system so that it is fair and relevant to modern society.

Campaigning for better laws to help victims

It is important that the law adapts to meet changing social needs and attitudes. Campaigning to change the law gives the general public a voice and a chance to support causes they believe in. It also helps canvas views towards topical issues such as workplace safety or cleanliness of hospitals, raising awareness and hopefully improving conditions for everyone so that fewer people have to suffer the potentially devastating consequences of an incident.

As lawyers who, for several decades now, have worked closely with victims of industrial disease and workplace accidents, we are in a privileged position to see when the justice system is not doing its job. We have the knowledge, expertise, and passion to act on it.

How Thompsons has helped

We know that accidents can have a devastating impact on the lives of a victim's family as well, and believe that any compensation award should reflect this. That's why, working in partnership with trade unions and victims' pressure groups, we have successfully convinced the government to widen the scope of relatives who can claim compensation when a loved one is negligently killed.

Now, the law rightly recognizes that in many situations a close bond exists between siblings or between grandparents and grandchildren. These groups were previously ignored when damages claims were settled. We strongly urge that all trade union members and their families understand the full benefits that they're entitled to, which includes free legal advice in relation to a personal injury claim.

In relation to asbestos-related cancer, we have been successful in persuading the government that victims should be compensated quickly so they may, at the very least, enjoy some financial comfort before their death. Furthermore, we've ensured that these victims should not have to make the impossible choice over whether they or their relatives should be compensated.

When victims of pleural plaques were told they would get nothing in terms of redress for scarring on their lungs due to asbestos exposure, we supported a campaign to open the Scottish Parliament's eyes to the thousands of suffering workers, and they now realize that this is not acceptable.

Over the past decade, Thompsons has also been involved in campaigns seeking inquiries into some of the worst disasters in the country. We helped set up The Penrose Inquiry and then represented all the transfusion and haemophiliac victims involved, who were negligently exposed to NHS blood contaminated with Hepatitis-C. We offered strong support for the inquiry into the Stockline Plastics factory explosion and represented the victims' families affected by the tragedy. These inquiries have proven that even the Lord Advocate can be made to take action in the public interest if the right kind of pressure is applied.

We do all this because we know that campaigns help ensure justice for victims, keep the law modern, and accurately reflect the public’s concerns.

Feel supported with a Thompsons Solicitor by your side

As can be seen from our many years of experience and campaigning, we've helped victims who have unfairly suffered because of another's negligence, and we intend to help many more. If you have been injured or are suffering from an illness that you believe to have been caused, at least in part, by the actions of someone else – perhaps an employer who did not properly enforce the correct health and safety regulations in the workplace – then there is no need for you to face the consequences on your own. You could be entitled to claim compensation.

Friendly, caring, and dedicated, Thompsons Solicitors can provide you with all the advice and guidance you need in relation to your claim. Our lawyers are equipped with a diverse range of expertise in the field of personal injury, and we always strive to keep our fees to a minimum. Call us today on 0800 0891 331 for an initial discussion about your case.

Reforming Wrongful Deaths Laws

The Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 – Victims of Wrongful Death

The compensation lawyers at Thompsons Solicitors are passionate advocates of reforms that help make the law fairer for personal injury victims and their families. One reform that has helped make things easier was a bill introduced into the Scottish Parliament by Bill Butler on 29 April 2009. The bill aimed to repeal the complex nature of the Damages (Scotland) Act 1976 and ease the burden on victims of wrongful death and their relatives (examples of wrongful death include road accidents, workplace deaths, and asbestos-related cancer). This bill was passed on 3 March 2011 as the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011.

What the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 Meant for Personal Injury Law

The Act followed a report released by the Scottish Law Commission in September 2008, which recommended that the ‘living expenses’ deduction (which is taken away from loss of support compensation given to the families of victims) should be fixed at 25%.

In this context, ‘living expenses’ relate to the percentage of a deceased person’s earnings that are subtracted from a compensation payment to represent money the deceased would have spent on themselves. Up until the introduction of the Act, a deceased person's income and expenditure were scrutinised in court until lawyers could agree on what percentage should be deducted. The income of the surviving partner or spouse was also taken into account. This very public scrutiny of private matters took time, cost money, and was clearly distressing for families who had already suffered the anguish of losing a loved one.

The purpose of the 25% fixed deduction was to put an end to this excessive scrutiny. Speaking back in 2009, Butler explained that he hoped “by standardizing the assumed living expenses of victims in wrongful death cases, we will avoid a great deal of distress for victims and expense for employers in unnecessary litigation”.

As well as the introduction of the fixed percentage, the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 has also meant that the surviving spouse or partner's income is no longer taken into account while the compensation is being calculated.

Thompsons, Supporting the Families of Victims

Butler's efforts were praised by many prolific names in personal injury law, including Thompsons' former joint managing partner and Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, who said, “Not only would this be just but it would also ensure that, in avoiding all of these debates on evidence and law, the case would be fairly automatic in terms of calculating this head of damage, reduce delays and speed up settlements. It would also minimise the hardship to the person who is claiming in trying to explain to us how they live.”

At Thompsons, we do whatever we can to help the victims of personal injury and their families. We work with trade unions and pressure groups to campaign for changes to the law whenever we feel it necessary. We are always pushing for ways to reform the law that, like the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011, strive to make it fairer for everybody.

We care about helping others, having represented victims involved in some of the country's most devastating tragedies, including The Penrose Inquiry, the Stockline Plastics Disaster, and the Clutha pub helicopter crash. We bring the same passion and dedication demonstrated in these high-profile cases to each and every client.

Call Our Personal Injury Solicitors Today

If you've suffered a personal injury or illness as a result of the actions or inactions of another, you could be entitled to compensation. Our years of experience and honed expertise mean that we're well-equipped to help you no matter the nature of your claim. We always aim to minimise our fees as much as possible, with a No Win No Fee option available to many of our clients. So, to find out how much you can claim, call Thompsons today on 0800 0891 331.

Remote Court Hearings via Electronic Communication - SCJC Consultation

In 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Scottish Parliament made changes to the law affecting how civil court hearings can take place, allowing live visual (video) and/or audio (telephone) links from any location. The changes suspended the requirement for parties to physically attend hearings. These changes to the law were due to be revoked in September 2021; however, certain parts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) legislation were extended until March 2022.

The Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC) is now considering whether any of the procedural changes enacted by the COVID Laws should be developed further, particularly in relation to the conduct of civil court hearings and other business via electronic means, which facilitate remote court hearings.

Consultation on Mode of Attendance at Court Hearings in Civil Proceedings

The consultation sought views on how the new rules affect the ways in which court hearings are conducted in the Court of Session and in the Sheriff Courts. In particular, the consultation focused on:

  • Which types of hearings were suitable for attendance via electronic means and which were suitable only for in-person attendance.
  • How the mode of attendance in Scottish courts could be altered if the circumstances justified a change from the general presumption (default position).
  • How a change in the mode of attendance in Scottish courts could be handled by the court when it is in the interests of justice.

Consultation responses from solicitors and other interested parties will inform the SCJC on how the rules and associated frameworks can assist the court system and enable access to justice following COVID-19 and in the longer term.

Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland Respond to the Consultation

Thompsons welcomed the opportunity to respond to the consultation paper and thanked the Scottish Court Service for the work it has undertaken to ensure the continuation of court hearings and judicial business throughout the pandemic. Thompsons recognized that significant beneficial developments have occurred in the way that some court business has been conducted and supports the retention of many of these procedures.

However, Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland is concerned that the proposed rules in relation to in-person hearings will dilute the fundamental principle of access to justice and damage the deserved reputation of the Scottish legal system as a forum of fairness, equality, and openness, where those who seek their day in Court can have it.

In conclusion, the Thompsons' consultation response says: "The proposed changes in the court rules are a challenge to some of the fundamental principles of our legal system. Should there be an overall will for that change, Thompsons would wish to see some sort of pilot scheme in operation for a reasonable period of time, to be subject to stringent review and a further consultation before any permanent change is made to the way our courts are accessed."

Continuing the Legacy of Legal Reform

At Thompsons Solicitors, we believe that the one and only purpose of personal injury compensation is to support the victims and their families. It is our conviction that the law should always be as fair as possible, and if any recompense awarded is not enough to sufficiently ease the suffering of the victim, or if the damages are significantly reduced by high legal fees, then this is not fair. So the laws surrounding the compensation should be amended. 

This is why, as a firm, we have always welcomed any change to the law that aims to improve the difficult situation facing the victims of injury, and we ourselves have campaigned for such changes to be made.

The principle of campaigning to reform the law on behalf of the victims was championed by our late joint managing partner (as well as the former president of the Society of Solicitor Advocates) Frank Maguire, who worked tirelessly to give a voice to those treated unfairly by the law. This goal is one shared by all our lawyers, and it is a core belief that we pride ourselves on as a firm.

Bill Butler's Reforms on Wrongful Death Laws

Back in 2009, Frank Maguire welcomed moves by MSP Bill Butler to reform the law covering compensation for wrongful deaths, agreeing that it was "an area of the law which is long overdue for a major overhaul". Maguire went on to explain his view: “There is something far wrong with a system that makes the families of victims jump through all sorts of legal hoops to get rightful compensation for their loss. The system is appallingly slow and cumbersome and that adds to the grief and suffering of the bereaved relatives.”

We believe that his comments capture our whole ethos as a firm and the reason why we strive so hard to improve the law for victims and their families. Butler launched a Members' Bill to update the legislation for wrongful death cases, which can include deaths at the workplace or in road traffic accidents. The changes proposed by the Bill were based on a number of recommendations the Scottish Law Commission made with a view to reforming the law in this area. The main proposal was to standardise the assumed living expenses that are deducted from a victim's compensation. This is because a standardised rate helps avoid unnecessary litigation, benefitting both the victim and the employer.

On the intended goals of the reforms, Butler, who was Glasgow Anniesland MSP at the time, said, "I want to provide justice and dignity for victims and their loved ones. The current system can be improved so that it provides a fair level of compensation in cases of wrongful death without the need for unnecessarily long and distressing court cases." He added, "We should all be able to agree about making the law fairer." At Thompsons, we couldn't agree more.

The bill was passed by parliament in March 2011 as the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011, garnering a lot of enthusiastic support from many. Professor Joe Thomson of the Scottish Law Commission said: "This bill clarifies, simplifies and modernises the law of damages for wrongful death. Almost all of the measures were welcomed by all those who responded to a consultation on the issue.”

Thompsons Are Always Here to Help

The law is continually changing, and it is Thompsons' mission to see it change for the good of the victims of personal injury. We will continue to support reforms that help those struggling with the injury or illness their accident has left them with. If you've suffered as a result of negligence, our compensation lawyers have all the necessary knowledge and expertise to help guide you through your claim. We only represent victims of personal injury and so are experienced in handling a diverse range of cases.

In the majority of cases we take on, we are able to offer our clients a No Win No Fee package, ensuring that they won't have to pay any unnecessary fees if their claim is unsuccessful. To take the first steps towards claiming compensation today, call 0800 0891 331 to have an initial discussion about your case with a specialist lawyer.

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