Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:
- Tort Law
Reported by Sara Saquib
Medical Negligence: A case that has rocked the medical world.
Mrs Adcock, mother of six-year-old Jack Adcock who died in hospital has got what she has been fighting for since 2011, when her son died due to medical negligence in hospital.
On the 25th of January 2018, Doctor Hadiza Bawa-Garba was struck of the medical register after a high court appeal. The result of this appeal has been controversial with the lawyers of the doctor arguing that it was not her actions in isolation that caused the death, but rather a large amount of staff members including other consultants. Doctor Bawa-Garba did not only have legal backing but also had the support of 700 medics who signed a letter stating that it was unfair for Bawa-Garba to get all the blame.
It should not be forgotten that over the past few years, the NHS has been facing increasing cuts, with staff members under more pressure now than ever before. However, it is questionable whether this can justify what happened. It was claimed that Bawa-Garba made multiple fatal mistakes while Jack was under her supervision. This included not being aware of symptoms Jack was experiencing from his infection and thinking that he was under a do-not-resuscitate order.
Although Bawa-Garba was sentenced to two years in prison in 2015, Mrs Adcock stated that she would keep resisting until the Dr was off the medical register. After the High Court ruling, which struck Hadiza Bawa-Garba off of the medical register, Mrs Adcock commented stating that justice has finally been served, with the ruling being given on
However, this ruling hasn’t been very popular. Jeremy Hunt stated that he is concerned about the implications this may have for practicing doctors. This ruling could lead, for example, to doctors not reporting their actions fully in their e-journals online. Many doctors are angry and claim that the high court appeal has criminalised errors made in the hospital that aren’t as black and white as they would appear on paper.
- Finance/Employment Law
Reported by Spencer Yap
Carillion’s pension deficit
Following the collapse of Carillion, a British facilities management and construction conglomerate, investigators (The Work and Pensions Committee) started questioning why the pension funds of its employees has been systematically and continuously shrank. The company manages a number of government contracts, from maintaining prisons to rebuilding the Battersea power station. Carillion also acquired and merged with a number of different firms, one of which being Alfred McAlpine which had a pension deficit of £110m and is being questioned by the investigation committee.
In a letter from Robin Ellison, chairman of trustees of Carillion’s pension scheme, suggested £990m missing from the funds. Executives of Carillion cited cash-flow issues as a reason for deferring payments. BBC reports that “The letter shows that pension trustees were ‘kept in the dark’ about the state of Carillion’s finances until late last year, the committee argues, and that dividends and bonuses were paid out at the expense of pension fund contributions”.
Carillion auditors – KPMG, are also under investigation. The Financial Reporting Council, the accountancy regulators said they would “consider whether the auditor has breached any relevant requirements, in particular the ethical and technical standards for auditors.” The investigation will look into the “estimates and recognition of revenue on significant contracts and accounting for pensions.” KPMG commented on this, saying “we conducted our role as Carillion’s auditor appropriately and responsibly, adding that it would co-operate fully with the FRC’s investigation”.
View the Financial Reporting Council’s announcement on investigation here.
- Employment Law
Reported by Radhika Morally
Government loses employment tribunal appeal over judges’ pension scheme
The UK government has lost the second dispute, against over 200 judges, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling that the new judicial pension scheme was “highly disadvantageous” as it unlawfully discriminated against younger members of the judiciary.
Members of the judiciary, which included six High Court judges in their 50s, were successful last year in the action they brought against the government last year at the Central London Employment Tribunal.
The Justice Secretary and Ministry of Justice have since brought a challenge to the ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which has been dismissed.
The action was based upon a new judicial pension scheme which entered into force in April 2015, which provides judges with significantly less valuable retirement benefits than their former pension scheme. Although the transitional provisions protect older judges, younger judges claimed that there was age discrimination involved since they were being treated less favourably on the grounds of their age.
The Employment Tribunal therefore ruled last year that both the Justice Secretary and the Ministry of Justice have “failed to show their treatment of the claimants to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
Sir Alan therefore confirmed this in the most recent decision by ruling that no mistake in law has been made.
- Family Law
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Judge rules that doctors can stop baby’s life support
A judge in the High Court has ruled that doctors are able to withdraw life-support treatment to an 11-month-old child, against his parents’ wishes.
Takesha Thomas and Lanre Haastrup have been fighting a legal battle to keep their son’s life support on, despite being advised that this is “not in his best interests” by the staff at King’s College Hospital. After being deprived of oxygen at birth, Isaiah Haastrup suffered “catastrophic” brain damage which has led to him having to be cared for by the hospital and on life support ever since. Hospital staff now believe that it is in the best interest of the child to give only palliative care, as the extensive brain damage experienced by Isaiah has resulted in a low level of consciousness, inability to move or breath independently and lack of stimulated response.
It is with “profound sadness” that Mr Justice MacDonald passed the ruling, stating that the parents’ evidence was “heavily influenced by the flattering voice of hope” and that he came to the decision after “examining Isaiah’s best interests from a broad perspective.” The child’s father commented that they would seek further advise from lawyers following this decision. Isaiah’s parents have also submitted a separate claim against King’s College Hospital for clinical negligence, which has prompted an investigation and an apology from the hospital.
This ruling closely follows the high-profile decision made last summer in the case of Charlie Gard. In this case, the parents of an infant born with a rare genetic disorder fought to allow the child to undergo experimental treatment abroad, against the wishes of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Following several appeals on the matter, Charlie Gard was ultimately transferred to a hospice, where his life support was withdrawn. It is unclear as to whether Isaiah’s parents will now go on to appeal the decision.