What Price Police Arrogance?

Photo of Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive, who reflects on police arrogance when dealing with the public.

Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive, represents claimants in civil actions against the police.

By Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive

I represent “Jean” and “Paul” (names changed), a mother and her 24-year-old son, in a civil action against the police.

So far, their case has been hard-fought. For lawyers involved in actions against the police, this will come as no surprise. Most cases are challenged.

But for the public, it might be interesting to know how some police forces and their lawyers conduct themselves, and to consider if this is an unnecessarily arrogant and costly approach.

Unlawful Police Raid

My clients are innocent victims of police misconduct who have never been in trouble with the police before. What happened to them could happen to any of us.

My clients live in a modest flat. At about 7:30pm one evening, Jean and Paul (who was 22 at the time) were at home when they heard a bang on the front door.

Jean answered the door thinking it was a delivery. She was shocked to find a team of police officers wearing protective gear. They stormed in and immediately separated the terrified residents.

Officers kept Jean in the living room and took Paul into a bedroom. They searched Paul fully. This included a humiliating, invasive, and degrading cavity search. The police also thoroughly searched the home. They found nothing.

The police detained Jean and Paul for 20 mins before leaving without offering an explanation or apology.

Justice Sought From the Police

Jean and Paul were left confused, terrified, and upset. They:

  • had no idea why their home was raided
  • worried that this could happen again
  • lost faith in the police.

They were also acutely embarrassed by the raid. Jean and Paul live quiet lives. The police raid happened in full view of their neighbours and friends.

The mother and son also suffered personal injuries in the police raid. A medical expert has since diagnosed that they both suffered serious and long-lasting psychological effects.

Jean and Paul contacted my firm for help because we specialise in civil actions against the police. We have a long track record of success against forces throughout England and Wales.

I spoke to them both about the incident. I was struck by the police’s dismissive attitude. They did not give Jean and Paul the courtesy of an explanation about what happened and what went wrong. They did not apologise for their actions, which included the most intimate physical search of Paul. They did not even follow up to enquire as to their well-being.

I was determined to help Jean and Paul seek justice.

Letter of Claim to the Police

Before starting a civil action against the police, it is important for me to find out what “justice” means to my clients. Remedies in claims against the police differ depending on the circumstances. In order of importance, my clients wanted an:

  1. apology
  2. explanation about what happened
  3. assurance that it will not happen again
  4. appropriate amount of compensation for their personal injuries.

I submitted full details to the police, using a Letter of Claim which met the Civil Procedure Rules requirements. The letter gave full details so the police could:

  • identify the incident from their records
  • consider liability and respond fully. This could be either
    • accepting liability, or
    • denying it with reasons
  • consider the likely value of my clients’ claims.

I also asked for:

  • specific documentation and evidence, including body worn camera footage, which would help the parties and the court establish facts and value claims
  • a formal written apology
  • an explanation of
    • what happened
    • what went wrong
  • an assurance that this error would not be repeated.

Police Arrogance in Response

The police’s response was dismissively short and failed to deal with my letter in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules. They offered no explanation, no apology, or assurance that they would not raid my clients’ home again.

Instead, their response simply said:

Can you confirm what quantum your clients are seeking?

“Quantum” is a legal term for the amount of compensation. As mentioned above, this was the least important of the four things my clients sought by way of justice.

I was disappointed, but not shocked, by the police’s arrogant response. I have seen similar responses from this Force in the past. I responded:

The defendant seems to have a policy of throwing money at cases in the hope that they would not have to explain themselves for any wrongdoing.

The defendant shows a clear lack of empathy to clients in these situations and think they are only interested in monetary compensation.

This case is not just about recovering compensation, it is about vindication and restoring their reputations, something which the defendant has left in tatters.

Court Proceedings

As well as the arrogance of their response, the Force failed to provide any documentation or other evidence by way of disclosure.

Disclosure is not something that can be avoided by either party in civil claims.

It is essential to help narrow the issues and promote settlement. If the parties cannot agree, the courts expect to see all relevant evidence to make a fair and just decision.

The police’s refusal to co-operate with their legal disclosure requirements left me with no alternative. I had to issue court proceedings and pay expensive court fees to get a hearing before a County Court judge.

It was worth it.

The proceedings resulted in a Court Order which forced the police to comply with their legal duty to provide disclosure. The documents confirmed what went wrong: the police acted on flawed intelligence that my client’s home was being used for drug trafficking when executing a search warrant.

Despite handing over documentation which proved my clients’ claims, the police continued their dismissive and arrogant approach. They ignored my clients’ reasonable requests for an apology and assurance that it would not happen again.

Instead, the Force simply made a “low-ball” offer without considering medical evidence. I advised my clients not to consider it. They could not tell if the offer was fair without an expert opinion.

Persistence Pays Off

I have no hesitation in taking cases all the way to trial when merited. My clients authorised me to continue aggressively litigating their case. This resulted in a written apology from the Force’s Head of Professional Standards. In it, he:

  • acknowledged the effect of the unlawful police raid
  • confirmed that the officers involved had received training
  • assured my clients that the Force is confident it won’t happen again.

Both my clients are absolutely delighted that they have achieved this outcome.  After all, they were innocent victims of police misconduct and simply sought justice.

Compensation Award to Follow

As well as an:

  • apology
  • explanation
  • assurance

it is right and proper that Jean and Paul also get financial compensation. No judge can turn back time. Financial damages are the court’s way of putting innocent victims of police misconduct in the pre-incident position. This will be dealt with in due course.

Consequences

It is clear that the police’s arrogant and unsympathetic approach has:

  1. made my clients’ stress and upset worse, and
  2. will cost taxpayers more money in legal and court fees.

Senior officers would do well to reflect on these issues before complaining about any perceived lack of public or political support and campaigning for increases in police budgets.

Daniel Fitzsimmons is a Chartered Legal Executive at Donoghue Solicitors. Contact him here.

 

 

 

The Art of War in Actions Against the Police

 

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, who explains how the Art of War applies to civil actions against the police

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, explains how the concepts in The Art of War, a 2,500-year-old book, still apply today.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

In the 5th century BC, Sun Tzu, the Chinese military general and strategist, wrote The Art of War. The book has influenced military leaders ever since. Some credit its concepts with the unification of Japan, helping Ho Chi Minh’s forces defeat America in the Vietnam war, and the US success in the First Gulf War.

The Art of War’s thirteen chapters address many aspects of warfare, including “laying plans”, “waging war”, “use of energy”, and “variation of tactics”. It combines pithy statements with practical information which is still relevant today.

As a result, its impact extends beyond the battlefield. It has also influenced politicians, those in business, and even lawyers. For solicitors involved in civil actions against the police, it is easy to see why.

“A Matter of Life and Death”

Sun Tzu said that the art of war “is a matter of life and death”. Bill Shankly, the Liverpool FC manager, must have been inspired by Sun when he said:

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

Many of my clients would agree that their civil actions against the police are vitally important to them. Taking on the State is not for the faint-hearted. But they feel that they have no alternative, especially if they want lessons to be learned. As one client said:


Ged mcdermott

An issue which started in 2015, had a massive impact on me and my family, thanks to Kevin has now come to an end and I finally feel that i have been listened to and taken seriously. The importance of engaging a solicitor of Kevin’s experience cannot be underestimated. The genuine care and attention he showed throughout will always be appreciated . It is hoped that GMP and the NCA have genuinely learned from our experience and nobody else suffers in the same manner and that they investigate crime more competently and in doing so protect the vulnerable in the community. Massive thank you Kevin for your help, patience and understanding

“All warfare is based on deception”

Contrary to the image of Lady Justice, the scales she holds are unbalanced in actions against the police. The police have more money, power, and influence than ordinary members of the public. But, with that power comes complacency. Especially when dealing with claimant lawyers.

At first glance, Donoghue Solicitors may not appear to be formidable opponents. My firm is small. We are based in Liverpool, not London. We do not have expensive offices.

But this is all by design.

My dedicated, highly-trained team choose to work here because they get to work closely with clients and take great satisfaction in helping them achieve justice.

We have an “all hands on deck” attitude which means we all learn from each other and put our experiences into practice quickly. This nimble, quick-thinking approach, means we catch our opponents off-guard.

We have recruited the brightest and best from bigger firms because our methods and culture attract talent. The police underestimate us at their peril, as this client noted.


Jody Martin

Kevin legally outsmarted all of the Defence lawyers arguments to the point where they conceded the case 12 months later.

And our location is an advantage. Liverpool is our home. We know it, and our North West police forces, well. But Donoghue Solicitors also represents clients throughout England and Wales by relying on cutting-edge technology. One of the helpful effects of the pandemic is that this is even easier now. Everyone, including judges, barristers, and clients, communicates remotely.

Photo of a terracota army general from the Qin Dynasty.

Terracota army general from the Qin Dynasty.

“The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.”

Successful civil actions against the police are a team effort. Clients, solicitors, barristers, experts, and others must all work together towards a common goal. We must be fearless in our representation, and formidable in our approach.

I set high standards and expect everyone, including my clients, to match them, as this client found:

dee chatterley

Excellent service, professional yet human and fought my case with such tenacity the like of which I have never seen.

“The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness”.

Solicitors are bound by strict Standards and Regulations of professional conduct. But there is more to running a law firm and bringing civil actions against the police than just following the rules. As this review shows, society benefits when solicitors lead by example:

altho sutt

I sincerely think Kevin is one of the most honourable solicitors that l have met;  the firm show commendable professionalism and honesty to those they represent – often people in vulnerable and frightening positions. Kevin Donoghue and his team have helped me put a negative and horrible experience behind me. I can now positively move on with my life after many years of worrying, fear and anxiousness; a two year wait from the Independent Police Complaints, which resulted in my complaint not being upheld. I cannot thank Kevin Donoghue and his team enough for fighting my case and putting my trust back in the UK legal system. The legal system can work, and does work with the continued hard ethical work of solicitors such a Kevin Donoghue and his team.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

A key part of knowing your opponent and yourself is recognising both sides’ strengths and weaknesses. This only comes with experience. Knowing your clients, opponent police forces, local courts, judges, and even the leanings of potential jurors, can be crucial to the success or failure of legal actions.

Civil actions against the police are a unique, discrete part of civil law. I have worked in this area for over twenty years. This experience means that I take cases other solicitors avoid. These often involve high-level police corruption where reputations of senior officers are at stake. I have found that such cases can occur repeatedly in local areas, suggesting systemic issues. For example, I have had considerable success in police corruption cases against:

  • South Wales Police
  • Merseyside Police
  • Greater Manchester Police
  • the Metropolitan Police
  • other police forces throughout England and Wales.

“A power of estimating the adversary, of controlling the forces of victory, and of shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and distances, constitutes the test of a great general. He who knows these things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his battles.”

I have personally sued most of our police forces. They all differ in their approaches. Some deny liability in every case, others take a more considered approach. Many forces farm out the work of dealing with civil actions against the police to defendant law firms. Others deal with them “in house” or share resources across a number of police forces. Knowing these things, and the people who deal with claims, means I am able to tailor my approach to help my clients achieve justice.

This knowledge means that I am frequently approached by other lawyers to represent their clients. The smart ones know that actions against the police are best left to the experts.

Despite this, I routinely see cases handled by other lawyers who fundamentally misunderstand the law in this area. Their clients’ cases are doomed to fail as a result.

For example, I took over a “dead in the water” claim pursued by a large personal injury law firm. The client’s former lawyers thought it was a basic personal injury claim. They were wrong. In fact, it involved a claim for false imprisonment. With my help, my client revived his claim and received £13,000 compensation plus legal costs.

“We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides.”

One part of building a winning team is the use of local experts. Courts operate in different ways. Judges can be pro-claimant or pro-defendant. Knowing this, I recruit barristers with local expertise where possible. For example, I have worked closely with David Hughes of 30 Park Place chambers in Cardiff. With his help, “Andrea Johnson” was awarded £70,000 compensation from South Wales Police and my client Jamie Clark won his hard-fought compensation claim against Dyfed-Powys Police.

Photo of a terracota army standing archer from the Qin Dynasty.

A terracota army standing archer.

“Let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”

It is essential that the police know claimants are serious about their cases. Issuing formal court proceedings is a significant and costly step. It should only be done as a last resort. Defendant police force lawyers can tell when inexperienced lawyers issue proceedings without the courage to take the case to trial.

The police know that, when we issue proceedings, we will take them to court if necessary. We know our clients and their cases. We are confident that they will win.

This attitude means that we negotiate from a position of strength, and only when it is in our clients’ best interests. One of those considerations is settling claims before trial. This can be attractive because it avoids uncertainty and helps our clients get the justice they deserve. As this client found:

Laura

Kevin was able to put forward such a strong argument in favour of our case that the Police felt compelled to settle prior to court by paying us compensation of £30,000 as well as covering our legal costs. I would have no hesitation in recommending Kevin and his team.

We are always cautious of any off-the-record settlement proposals though, because, as Sun Tzu said:

Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot.

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State.”

Civil actions against the police are not “war”. But they are serious undertakings which deserve proper consideration by all involved. In that regard, the teachings in Sun Tzu’s book are as relevant now as they were 2,500 years ago.

Kevin Donoghue is a solicitor who specialises in civil actions against the police. Contact him here.

 

Five Reasons Why a Personal Injury Lawyer Helps Claimants

Photo of Thomas O'Sullivan- personal injury lawyer at Donoghue Solicitors.

Thomas O”Sullivan explains why he prefers representing claimants here.

Thomas O’Sullivan is a personal injury lawyer at Donoghue Solicitors. In this blog post he compares representing claimants and defendants and explains why he prefers claimant work.

By Thomas O’Sullivan

It might help if I explain the law before discussing the differences between claimant and defendant work.

In any civil claim, there are two sides: claimant and defendant.

The claimant is the person or entity suing (bringing a case to court). The defendant is the party being sued.

How Claimants Bring Civil Claims

Many civil claims are based in tort, which is “a civil wrong”. They usually allege negligence. To succeed in a negligence claim, in basic terms the claimant must prove that the defendant:

  1. owed them a duty of care
  2. breached that duty
  3. caused them reasonably foreseeable loss or damage as a result.

Claimants must prove all three criteria to succeed.

How to Prove a Negligence Claim

Imagine you suffered an injury in a road accident through no fault of your own. You decide to bring a personal injury case relying on the tort of negligence. The law works like this:

  1. the other driver owed you a duty of care (because of a statute, or Parliament-made, law: in this case the Road Traffic Act 1988).
  2. they breached that duty by carelessly crashing into your car
  3. you suffered losses (personal injury, property damage, loss of earnings, and other expenses) as a result.

But how do you get justice? The courts cannot turn back time. Instead, judges aim to put claimants into the pre-accident position. They do this by:

  • making findings of liability (responsibility)
  • awarding compensation
  • other remedies.

Most people seek justice and compensation by instructing a specialist firm like Donoghue Solicitors.

But often, if you have a lawyer representing you, so does the defendant.

Representing the Defendant in Personal Injury Claims

I worked at a large defendant law firm before coming to Donoghue Solicitors. I specialised in defending personal injury accident claims. My main clients were two global insurance companies worth millions of pounds.

My job was to:

  1. fight claims so my insurer clients could avoid paying compensation
  2. save them as much money as possible when paying compensation claims.

Defendant lawyers have a variety of legal tools to achieve these aims. One is to allege “fundamental dishonesty”.

Alleging Fundamental Dishonesty

The Civil Procedure Rules set out how civil compensation claims and court proceedings are handled in England and Wales.

In personal injury claims, the Rules protect genuine claimants from paying defendants’ costs if they lose. This protection is known as “Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting”. But it disappears if a court finds that the claimant is ‘fundamentally dishonest’.

You can see how this could scare away claimants. Instead of a compensation award, they could be left with:

  1. a damaged personal reputation
  2. legal bills for thousands of pounds.

This makes unfounded fundamental dishonesty arguments an often-used tactic, even if they leave a sour taste in the mouth to all concerned.

That cynical approach to personal injury claims is one reason why I decided to make a career change.

Representing the Claimant as a Personal Injury Lawyer

In 2018, I started working at Donoghue Solicitors. I was attracted to the firm because it has an excellent reputation with defendant lawyers for specialising in personal injury accident claims.

Now I work as a claimant lawyer and help clients with:

  • road traffic accidents
  • accidents at work
  • accidents in public places
  • and more.

Where appropriate, I represent my firm’s clients in their accident injury claims on a “No win, No fee” basis.

I am proud to work as a lawyer who helps accident victims get the justice and compensation they deserve. It’s hugely satisfying.

And my experience at the defendant firm helps. I am a “poacher turned gamekeeper” and know many of the other sides’ tricks and tactics.

But, after working for the other side, why do I find working as a claimant personal injury lawyer more rewarding? Here are five reasons:

1. Dealing with clients from start to finish

One of the first things I noticed about Donoghue Solicitors is that the firm’s personal injury lawyers help clients from first consultation to claim settlement.

It was not like this at the defendant firm. There my clients were insurers. We did not have, or need, much contact. When we communicated, I dealt with anonymous members of a claims “team”.

Dealing with the same people throughout is much more fulfilling for both lawyer and client. Clients prefer working with one person who knows their case in detail. This leaves them feeling confident, at ease, and most importantly, valued. Personal injury lawyers get to know their clients’ cases well and work more efficiently as a result.

2. Getting to know clients personally

Working with clients throughout their claims helps me build genuine relationships.

Some civil compensation claims can take years. During that time, lawyers get to know clients on a personal level. The personal connection gives them a sense of trust and comfort. It helps clients to know that they can:

  • rely on an expert to navigate our complex legal system
  • concentrate on recovering after their accidents.

And it matters to personal injury lawyers too. We are not robots. Understanding and compassion set us apart from lawyers in other fields. This makes winning cases for clients more satisfying.

Often these relationships result in recommendations for legal help for family and friends. That is the ultimate proof of a job well done.

3. Helping innocent accident victims get justice and compensation

The defendant is at fault in almost all personal injury claims. Personal injury lawyers do not submit civil claims unless they:

  1. are confident that their clients are innocent
  2. have solid legal grounds to seek compensation.

When representing defendants my job was to save my insurer client money. They were already worth millions of pounds. In effect, I was helping the rich stay rich.

It is important that both sides get fearless legal representation But there is no better feeling than helping an innocent claimant get compensation to put their lives back on track.

Bringing a compensation claim is about more than money to most of my clients. Often, they want:

  • the court’s acknowledgement that they were an innocent accident victim
  • to be heard
  • lessons learned.

Being able to achieve these and other things for my clients is extremely gratifying.

4. Receiving genuine thanks and appreciation

This heading speaks for itself. At the end of any claim, hearing positive words from clients means a great deal. Often, a quick email or online review expressing thanks and appreciation keeps me going during the daily battles with defendant insurers and lawyers.

5. Working within a specialist, dedicated team

I am fortunate to work alongside some top-quality personal injury lawyers. Donoghue Solicitors is an award-winning law firm, led by Kevin Donoghue, solicitor. The firm has helped thousands of people get justice.

Kevin leads by example, fearlessly fighting for his clients and taking cases others avoid. He is constantly pushing me and my fellow lawyers to give everything in service of our clients. It is inspirational and exciting to be a part of such a dedicated, experienced, and talented team.

Suitability of Claimant Personal Injury Work

I am grateful for the opportunity of working for a defendant firm. I learned a lot and the experience led me to my present role at Donoghue Solicitors.

But without doubt, working as a claimant personal injury lawyer suits my personality and skillset. I look forward to helping many more clients get the justice and compensation they deserve.

Thomas O’Sullivan is a Trainee Chartered Legal Executive. He helps people win their personal injury compensation claims. Contact Tom to start your claim today.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Photo of Kevin Donoghue- solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors.

By Kevin Donoghue, Solicitor

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our clients, friends, and families.

Thank you for your support this year. We hope you have a relaxing and stress-free holiday and that 2021 is a great year for you all. (It’s got to be better than 2020 hasn’t it?)

Like the County Courts, we will be closed over the Christmas period, from 1pm on Thursday, 24 December 2020 until 9 a.m. on Monday, 4 January 2021.

Merry Christmas from Donoghue Solicitors
If you need urgent help, please contact me via email – [email protected]

This year, instead of greeting cards, we made a donation to Brunswick Youth and Community Centre (a registered charity based in Bootle, Liverpool, which we support). You can read more about how we give back to our community here.

Best wishes from all of us here at Donoghue Solicitors.

Kevin

Scam alert: “Sam Donohoe” Using Kevin Donoghue’s Details on Facebook and Messenger

 

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, who warns of a facebook scam

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors, warns of a potential Facebook scam in which his image and details have been used.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

Someone is trying to impersonate me on Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

A helpful lady called my office saying she had been contacted by “Sam Donohoe”. “He” (I don’t know for sure if it is a he, she, or a bot) said they represented a victim of a road traffic accident. “His” profile picture is one of mine taken from a blog post:

Photo of the profile of Sam Donohoe, a Facebook scam

This is the Facebook profile of “Sam Donohoe”, who is wrongly using Kevin Donoghue’s image and details.

The lady asked “Sam” to prove who “he” was. “He” sent a link to my firm’s website.

I confirmed to the lady who called that:

  • this approach was nothing to do with my firm
  • “Sam Donohoe” was not me or anyone connected with my firm (even the name is spelt incorrectly)
  • we would be taking steps to deal with this matter.

I immediately notified the authorities, including Facebook, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and others. I have sent a “Cease and Desist” to “Sam Donohoe” too.

Thankfully, no harm came of this impersonation attempt. But it’s a fact of modern life that some people try to take advantage.

The public should know that we:

  1. NEVER contact potential clients “out of the blue” on Facebook messenger or other online apps
  2. are always happy to confirm our details by phone (0151 236 1336) or email ([email protected]). These can be verified by checking the information provided on the SRA website.
  3. never just link to our website to prove our credentials.

I urge anyone who comes across potential scams like this one to contact the law firms involved. I am glad that the caller did.

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors.

 

How to Hold the Police Accountable for Human Error

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor, who discusses police human error.

Kevin Donoghue discusses how the police defend human error and how to handle their arguments.

I’ve recently settled civil actions against the police involving human error.

The police fought my clients’ cases by arguing that they have legal protections from civil claims when investigating and suppressing crime. In effect, they are different to you and me in that, they say, the police cannot be held accountable for their actions.

But that argument doesn’t wash. This is why.

1. The case of the missing children

“Carla” (name changed) lives in Kent. She is unmarried and does not have children.

Carla called the police to report a man who was harassing her. The police called round to take a statement. They checked Carla’s details and found that, according to the Police National Computer, there was a court warrant out for her arrest. It said that she was wanted in Grimsby, Lincolnshire for failing to make sure her children attended school.

This was news to Carla, and clearly wrong for two reasons:

  1. she does not have any children
  2. she has never been to Grimsby.

Carla pointed this out to the police, who, it should be remembered, she called to report a crime. (Would a wanted person do that?)

The police had options at this point. They could have taken sensible actions like:

  • checking her story
  • confirming what she said with those who put her details on the PNC
  • scheduling an interview.

But they did none of these things. Instead the police officers simply arrested Carla and took her to the local station.

Eventually, the officers confirmed that Carla was telling the truth and let her go.

She approached me for legal help because I specialise in civil actions against the police, as you can see from some of our case reports. With my help, Carla recovered

  • £5,000 compensation
  • her legal costs
  • confirmation that the PNC record had been updated.

2. The case of the disqualified driver

A court wrongly disqualified “Paul” (name changed) from driving. He did not know about the court hearing beforehand.

Paul successfully appealed the ruling as soon as he found out. Despite having his licence re-instated, the police arrested and detained Paul two weeks later for driving while disqualified.

He approached me for help. I found out that the PNC record had not been updated to show the error. The police acted upon the mistaken PNC entry, despite my client’s insistence at time of arrest that it was incorrect.

Again, with my help, Paul recovered £5,000 compensation and his legal costs. He also got confirmation that the PNC record had been updated.

Avoiding the Consequences of Police Human Error

These cases have three things in common:

  1. an avoidable human error
  2. the police did not follow established procedures and laws
  3. a denial of liability by the police’s legal representatives which misunderstands the law.

1. Avoidable Human Error

The problems begin for the police when the Police National Computer is inaccurate. In Carla’s case, the errors related to other people who had no connection with my clients.

The court (in Carla’s case) made human errors which brought unsuspecting, and entirely innocent, people into the police’s orbit with disastrous consequences.

In Paul’s case, the failure to update his record was something which, sadly, happens all too often. The court service is severely stretched. Things get missed by staff tasked with updating records. But this is a vital part of the court staff’s work and not something which should be skipped.

2. Police Did Not Follow Established Procedures and Laws

There are two police actors here:

       i.          The Arresting Officer

The arresting officers failed to apply the law and their training. As our false imprisonment claims explained page shows, these cases are unusual in that the burden of proof falls on the police once unlawful detention is shown. It is the police’s job to show that they had the lawful authority to detain. A court can find the police liable for false imprisonment if they did not.

The police usually argue that they were carrying out a lawful arrest. To do that, the arresting officer must have an honest and reasonable suspicion that the arrested person was involved in the commission of a criminal offence.

The police officer must also show that:

  • it was necessary to arrest,
  • the arrested person was informed of the grounds for arrest as soon as reasonably practicable, and
  • the decision to arrest was reasonable on public law grounds.

These rules mean that the arresting officer (and, by extension his/ her boss, the Chief Constable of the police force involved) must exercise some independent thought before arrest. While the law gives the police the benefit of the doubt, it does not give them absolute protection.

In these cases the police did not investigate a clearly expressed and genuine alibi before arrest. This, and other breaches of the law, resulted in my clients receiving damages for false imprisonment.

      ii.          The Custody Officer

The role of custody officers at police stations also deserves scrutiny. As I explain here, even if arrest and detention is lawful initially, it can become unlawful later, giving rise to claims for false imprisonment.

Custody officers have a duty to investigate if there is enough evidence to justify a charge when they receive an arrested person at the station. If not, they must release the detainee (with or without bail).

Again, the custody officers could have done more to investigate the alibis presented and/ or shorten the period of detention.

3. Denial of Liability Based on Misunderstanding

The defendant police forces argued that they were not liable for my client’s compensation claims. They claimed that they have broad “immunity from suit” from negligence claims. As you can read on this page about the law in civil actions against the police, the law is well-established and helps the police make that argument.

But here’s the police’s problem: civil actions against the police involve more than just negligence claims.

As you can see on the page I linked to above, breaches occur in many different areas of statutory and common law. These include:

  • Equality Act 2010
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Breach of confidence
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Defamation
  • Wrongful interference with goods
  • Breach of statutory duty
  • Maliciously obtaining search of arrest warrants
  • And others.

The statutory laws (which Parliament makes) matter because they often include legal protections for victims which go beyond negligence.

Knowing this, I successfully argued that:

  1. the police failed in their duties under the Data Protection Act 2018
  2. they were required to compensate my clients under the provisions of the Act.

As a result, the police’s negligence arguments were irrelevant, and my clients received the compensation they deserved.

And, importantly, my clients relied on their rights to rectification and erasure to get the Police National Computer records updated to show that they were no longer wanted.

Public Benefit of Statutory Protections

Some might argue that Parliament has gone too far by eroding the police’s protection from civil compensation claims in negligence.

I disagree. The statutory protections in the laws above mean that the public can hold the police accountable for their actions. Now the police must think before arresting someone and causing them upset, distress, inconvenience, and serious loss. If these laws result in fewer people suffering the consequences of unlawful arrests and avoidable police human errors, then Parliament has done its job.

 

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors, an award-winning law firm which represents claimants in their civil actions against the police. Contact him here.

Q&A with Founder Kevin Donoghue on Donoghue Solicitors’ 10-Year Anniversary

Donoghue Solicitors celebrates its 10-year anniversary on 1 December 2020. In this Q&A, founder Kevin Donoghue reflects on the occasion.

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who rrepresented a client in his police national computer check error claim.

Kevin Donoghue, Solicitor and Director of Donoghue Solicitors.

Why did you set up Donoghue Solicitors?

I’ve always had a strong sense of social justice and been dedicated to helping my community. From an early age, when I volunteered at “The Brunny”, I realised that I could make a lasting difference in people’s lives.  Working in the law was a natural fit for me.

As I learned more about legal practice, I became frustrated with how law firms operate. Many solicitors involved in civil actions against the police rely on the safety net of legal aid. I found that this denied access to justice to those who genuinely deserved it. I was ready to take a risk to help them and the fast-changing legal landscape gave me the opportunity.

Photo of Kevin Donoghue standing at the reception of Donoghue Solicitors.

An early photo of Kevin Donoghue at work.

What was the hardest/ easiest part of setting up and running your own law firm?

I like pushing myself and those around me out of our comfort zones. Despite this, I never expected setting up my own firm to be “easy”. I made sacrifices. There were a lot of long days and nights. Things were hardest in the beginning. I had to learn a lot about running a business quickly and get comfortable with the unique pressures of running a solicitor’s firm. When I set up Donoghue Solicitors we were in the middle of a global recession which hit banks especially hard. This made it hard to get outside financial support as an unknown with limited assets.

Such challenges were not all bad. They helped me grow a lean practice (without debt, which is unusual for law firms) and achieve my ambition of serving my community in the way I wanted.

As well as my professional obligations, I juggled personal and financial commitments to my young family. My eldest, William, had just turned 1. My wife, Stephanie, was on maternity leave and earning a reduced income. And I instantly went from earning a steady pay cheque to a lack of regular money. Thankfully things have improved, but we remain frugal and live within our means.

Staff recruitment is a continuing challenge. I have exceptionally high standards and expect my staff to live up to them. We don’t use recruitment agencies and I personally vet and interview candidates, which is a very time-consuming exercise. But it’s worthwhile because it means that we only recruit high-quality, efficient, passionate, dedicated people, who fit in to our unique culture. Our retention rate is exceptionally high because we are so careful about who we recruit. This benefits our clients who often treat us as long-trusted members of their own families and social networks.

The easiest part of setting up Donoghue Solicitors was coming to work every day to practice law. I also found this the most rewarding part, and still do. I’m passionate about the law and I still love it. Getting to do my favourite thing, on my own terms, with great people around me, makes me a lucky man.

Photo of Kevin Donoghue Solicitor in Bootle at the entrance to Brunswick Youth Club.

Kevin Donoghue Solicitor in Bootle at the entrance to Brunswick Youth Club (photo taken in 2015).

How do you see charity and nonprofit work overlapping with your business?

I always wanted to “give back” in other ways apart from representing people in their fights for justice. Lifting up those in our community is a core part of my own, and my firm’s, identity. We have been long-term supporters of charities including “The Brunny” (Brunswick Youth and Community Centre), which does fantastic work in Bootle, Merseyside, and beyond. And, with Daniel Fitzsimmons help, I set up and funded a number of youth football teams when I found out that children in my area were struggling to afford to play. Donoghue Solicitors FC teams continue to help children who might otherwise miss out.

Photo of one of the Donoghue Solicitors FC teams

Donoghue Solicitors FC team photo.

What are some business challenges you’re facing now?

Without doubt, increasingly restrictive fixed fees and swingeing judge-led costs assessments are my number one financial and business issue. Clients, regulators, and judges expect a “Rolls Royce” legal service with the best trained and supported lawyers. But these expectations are undermined by fixed fees and restrictive costs regimes which do not allow for it. Clients rarely know about this issue. Some wrongly think that “no win no fee” funding means that they effectively get unlimited, free, legal services. Explaining what we can and can’t do within fixed fees or costs budgets can be challenging.

With the benefit of 10 years’ experience, what would you tell your younger self?

I would say, “Stick to your principles. Don’t lose sight of who you are and what you set out to achieve. Do what you do best. Keep the business lean, solvent, and secure.”

Photograph of Kevin Donoghue and Daniel Fitzsimmons on Donoghue Solicitors

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, (right) and Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive, of Donoghue Solicitors in 2012.

What are you most proud of?

I find that developing my team is incredibly rewarding. I enjoy moulding people who are new to the law, or have come from other firms, into outstanding lawyers.

For example, Daniel Fitzsimmons was my first hire and is still working with me today. When he joined the firm, Dan was as an assistant to a legal clerk and had huge untapped potential. With my help and his own hard graft, he became a fully qualified Chartered Legal Executive who represents clients in highly complex cases. I got as much pleasure out of his qualification as when I became a lawyer myself!

From a legal practice perspective, we have helped many people get justice. Often, they are in despair and don’t know where to turn or what to do. Knowing that we made a difference in their lives means everything.

Personally, my family is my proudest achievement. I have a wonderful wife who was on board with the project from the moment I raised it. We have had three fantastic boys together. Even though the boys might not know exactly what I do, they are a constant source of love and keep me grounded.

Donoghue Solicitors team celebrating their win at the 2015 Liverpool Law Society Awards.

Members of the Donoghue Solicitors team celebrate their win at the 2015 Liverpool Law Society Awards.

Where do you see yourself and/or Donoghue Solicitors in 10 years?

My team and I have achieved a lot together in the past 10 years.

I hope we continue our steady, measured progress. I want to keep standing up for my clients while keeping my team in employment in a safe and supportive environment. We are in it for the long haul. We’re all still (relatively) young and have plenty of years left!

Has your business made you happier and more fulfilled in life, compared to how you felt before starting it?

Undoubtedly yes. It may sound trite, but I really do love helping people and get great satisfaction from it. My success has allowed me to provide for my family. It also means that my team have secure, rewarding, employment and can provide for their families too.

Some of the Donoghue Solicitors team.

Donoghue Solicitors team members in 2019.

What advice would you give to solicitors thinking of setting up their own law firms?

I would encourage them to do it. Look after your clients, build your contacts, and have good mentors. Commit. It’s not easy, but, as Henry Ford once said,

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.

 

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors.

Should UK Police Get Taser 7 Stun Guns?

Despite official warnings about safety and reliability, the Home Secretary has authorised the use of Taser 7 weapons by all 43 UK police forces. Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who specialises in civil actions against the police, considers the implications for the public and police alike.

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who discusses Taser 7 weapons.

Kevin Donoghue, solicitor, considers if the police should get the new Taser 7 weapon.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor

Recently Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, allowed Chief Constables in the UK’s 43 police forces to buy the new Taser 7 pistol-like devices.

She said:

“It is sickening that our brave police officers face assaults and attacks as they work tirelessly to keep us all safe. They are our protectors and I will do everything in my power to give them what they need to keep themselves and the public safe.

This new taser model will provide a safe and effective tool for apprehending criminals.

The taser is an important tactical option for police in potentially dangerous situations.”

Funding for the new Tasers will come from a £10 million cash reserve announced in September 2019. £6.7 million has already been allocated for Tasers and training. All forces who applied for the extra funding got the full amount requested.

It is not clear if the unspent money is for the new Taser 7, which was released in November 2018, or older models like the X2 (launched 2017) or X26e (released in 2005). Funding allocations cover the period up to March 2021. I expect many forces will get the latest Taser 7 “kit” (as police officers like to call it).

What is the Taser 7?

Axon, its manufacturer, describes Taser 7 as “the most effective TASER weapon ever.”

See it in use here:

Axon says Taser 7 has the following features when compared to previous models:

  • faster, more accurate
  • stronger, better connections
  • better clothing penetration, less ricochet
  • redesigned darts with twice the kinetic energy
  • faster cartridge reloads
  • short (4 feet) and long range (12-22 feet) cartridges
  • green laser, bright in daylight
  • smart battery.
Photo of police officers holding Tasers.

Police officers equipped with Tasers.

What Do the Police Say About Tasers?

Chief Constables and the Police Federation have championed the use of Tasers for years. The police seem thrilled by this recent announcement.

My old sparring partner, Che Donald, of the Police Federation, parroted the manufacturer’s language. He said:

Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with many dangerous situations that our officers face on the streets and is a less lethal option in comparison to conventional firearms.

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, CEO of the College of Policing, said:

Policing is becoming ever more challenging and ensuring officers have the training and support needed to keep themselves safe while protecting the public is rightly a priority for the service.

Chief Officer Dale Checksfield of Durham Police hailed the announcement as “great news” and echoed calls for volunteer special constables to get the weapons, which Kent Police is pursuing.

Photo of a man holding a Taser.

A Taser X26.

Government Testing of Taser 7

The Taser 7 announcement means that the UK’s police forces:

  • get a new weapon
  • funded by central government
  • which is popular with senior officers and the police union.

Sounds good, right? Not so fast.

The Ministry of Defence’s Scientific Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less-lethal Weapons (SACMILL) benchmarked the new Taser 7 by comparing it to previous Tasers.

Its independent assessment was less glowing than the comments above suggest.

It found that, compared to previous models, Taser 7 may:

  • be more painful for the subject and cause vasovagal syncope (a sudden drop of heart rate and blood pressure, causing fainting) because of its pulsing electrical output
  • “elevate the risk of skull and other bony injuries associated with uncontrolled falls and of musculoskeletal injury due to a more forceful muscle contraction”
  • cause an “increase in the incidence of darts penetrating the body to their full depth” and “injuries to deeper-lying organs and tissues”
  • fail to operate due to trapped ejectors and stiff triggers
  • cause operational issues as officers must decide between using short- and long-range cartridges under potentially stressful conditions.

Free-Flying Probe Problem With Taser 7

Another key difference between Taser 7 and previous models is that the 11.6mm long metal barbs:

  1. are fired from the weapon using “higher kinetic energy and momentum”, and
  2. detach from the tethering wire when it is fully extended.

This means that, as SACMILL understands,

“detached probes have the potential to fly up to 25 m before striking the ground”

What’s more, during testing SACMILL found that the new Taser 7’s barbs “may have a tendency to stray further from the point of aim”, causing:

the potential to raise the risk of upper probe strikes to the vulnerable areas of the head and neck in the event that the point of aim of the upper probe is inadvertently set too high.

The scientists also noted:

“Probes detaching from the wire at full extension producing an additional risk to bystanders (including other officers), a risk that is not present with the X2™ or X26™.”

SACMILL worried that this “novel risk” could cause unintended injury. The chances of this collateral damage are significantly higher with Taser 7 than previous models. This is because police using Taser 7 are between about 7-20 times more likely to miss the target, as you can see in the table below:

DeviceMiss Rate
Taser 757.6%
Taser X22.8%
Taser X268.3%

This test was performed with the target 3m (10 feet) away. But, as I mentioned earlier, the new Taser 7 can be fired from up to 7m. It is likely that police officers using the stun-gun would be even less accurate from this distance.

A Taser X26 illustration.

Inadequate Police Training for Tasers

The report’s authors noted that:

“training cannot eliminate the risk associated with detaching probes but may assist in its management.”

But, as the government itself announced, a mere 1.5% (£150,000) of the £10 million for Tasers has been set aside for training.

And, as I previously described, Taser-wielding officers currently get just three days’ training before they are let loose on the public with these potentially deadly weapons. Spending so little on firearms training compared to the cost of this “kit” shows where the police and government’s priorities lie.

The police’s solution to the risk of unintended injury does not inspire confidence. The official guidance is simply to get Taser-wielding police officers to move closer:

At the recent National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Covert CED meeting the College of Policing proposed that officers could mitigate this problem by dynamically closing the distance between the target and the officer and emphasising in training the different operational probe spreads.

I am not convinced. I expect that, when officers learn about the new Taser 7’s long-distance abilities, they will be more inclined to use the stun-guns from a distance. This will increase the likelihood of unintended injury.

And, as Tasers get issued to more police officers, it is likely that they will be used even more than last year, when police confirmed record high deployments.

Police Guidance on Taser Use

Previous versions of Taser have caused or contributed to at least 18 deaths in the UK. SACMILL’s concerns about the new Taser 7’s accuracy and injury risk are valid. Tragically, it seems inevitable that the police’s expected use of these weapons is likely to cause or contribute to more deaths.

Such concerns are not new.

The Association of Chief Police Officers guidance about Tasers is clear. Police should only use them when:

  1. officers face violence; or
  2. when they are in a situation where the threat of violence is so severe they need to use force to protect the public, themselves, and/ or the person they are dealing with.

Despite these warnings, officers can forget their training in the heat of the moment. Some may shoot the stun-gun simply to apprehend suspects or use them for “pain compliance” to assert their authority.

Deploying Tasers in this way is an inappropriate, and potentially deadly, use of weaponry. As well as the physical effects on suspects and others, officers could face criminal, civil, and disciplinary charges.

Photo of London Metropolitan Police officers confronting protesters.

Metropolitan Police officers confront protesters.

Chief Constable Responsibility

The Home Office announcement notes that the decision to get Taser 7s rests with individual Chief Constables, who apply their own “strategic threat and risk assessment”. It says that all Chief Constables:

“have undertaken a commitment for every officer who patrols with Taser to be equipped with Body Worn Video.”

But Chief Constables should ask themselves, is it possible that concerns about the new Taser 7 are why the Home Office passed the buck?

Police in the UK are rightly proud of their global reputation for being largely unarmed, except for certain officers in specialised units. Giving police officers more of these powerful and potentially deadly weapons is dangerous for both the police and public, can lead to miscarriages of justice, and leads to the view that the police are turning into a paramilitary force.

Chief Constables should think long and hard before arming their officers with Tasers.

Kevin Donoghue is a solicitor who specialises in civil actions against the police. Contact him here.

How the Police and Home Office Misjudged the Public Mood

Photo of Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive, who discusses how the police and home office misjudged the public mood.

Daniel Fitzsimmons considers how the police and Home Office misjudged the public mood in response to a news story.

By Daniel Fitzsimmons, Chartered Legal Executive

This week a journalist from Sky News contacted me about my client Steven Smith.

He had read the case report and blog post I wrote about Mr Smith’s case (click on the links to read them) and wanted to speak to my client about his experience. With Steven’s permission I made the introductions, which led to today’s article on the Sky News website. It shows how:

  • the police,
  • National Police Chiefs Council, and
  • the Home Office

all misjudged the public mood at a crucial time.

Serving Police Officer Convicted of Assault

With my help, Steven received compensation after an Avon and Somerset police officer assaulted him. The officer restrained Mr Smith using a chokehold. The chokehold is a controversial method which is banned by many police forces in the USA. As Steven found, it can cause the suspect to lose consciousness. And for some it can be worse. Campaigners are calling for a ban on the use of this potentially deadly restraint method.

The officer in Steven’s case was convicted of “assault by beating” my client. But he kept his job. This, Steven said, left him “gutted and upset”.

“You should be able to go to the police and their judgement should be above board and impeccable at all times,” Mr Smith said.

Quite right.

Freedom of Information Act Request

So it was disappointing to read that:

  1. “More than 200 serving police officers in the UK have convictions for criminal offences including assault, burglary, drug possession and animal cruelty.” In fact, 211 officers had criminal convictions according to the Sky News report.
  2. This number is likely to be much higher, as only 16 of the UK’s 45 territorial police forces, British Transport Police, and Ministry of Defence police responded to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for data. More than two thirds of police forces failed to respond, using a variety of excuses, including:
  • “a disproportionate and unjustified diversion of policing resources during the coronavirus epidemic”
  • the request for information was “vexatious” (frustrating or annoying)
  • processing the request was too expensive.
  1. Serving police officers have criminal convictions for a variety of offences including:
  • assault (as in Steven Smith’s case)
  • burglary
  • theft
  • cruelty to animals
  • drug possession
  • possession of an imitation firearm
  • etc.

Police and Home Office Defensive Comments

Predictably, Chief Constable Craig Guildford, the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead for professional standards, defended his fellow officers, saying that:

“having a criminal record has never been an automatic bar to joining the police or many other public sector professions”.

The Home Office also supported the police, saying that:

“the overall majority of whom carry out their duties with the utmost professionalism and integrity and are committed to keeping the public safe.”

Impact on Public Confidence in the Police

It is fair to assume that, as only one third of police forces responded, the true number of convicted police officers is at least three times higher. And, given the worrying and varied nature of the offences detailed by the forces who responded, this situation is more serious than previously known. By:

  • failing to respond to a legitimate FOIA (as two thirds of forces did),
  • downplaying the issue, and
  • defending police officers right to serve despite criminal convictions,

the UK’s police forces, NPCC, and Home Office have undermined public confidence and trust at a time when they need to improve it. The erosion of public trust matters because the doctrine of “policing by consent” underpins the police’s Code of Ethics. Without it they cannot function.

From a public relations perspective, the police and Home Office’s defensive responses show that they continue to misjudge the public mood. Recent outrage at high-profile incidents including the stop and search of athlete Bianca Williams  and the Black Lives Matter protests indicate that the country expects more from its police forces. Failing to take the FOIA request seriously and acknowledge how police officer criminal convictions undermine public confidence is another example of a wider systemic issue. Yet again the police, NPCC, and Home Office have badly missed the mark.

Daniel Fitzsimmons is a Chartered Legal Executive who specialises in civil actions against the police at Donoghue Solicitors.

How a Coronavirus Risk Assessment Helps Us Return to Work

Photo of Kevin Donoghue, a solicitor who has used a coronavirus risk assessment to help his team return to office work.

Kevin Donoghue explains how a coronavirus risk assessment helps his team return to office work.

By Kevin Donoghue, solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors

As you will know if you read my previous blog posts about coronavirus, we have been working remotely since the “stay at home” order came into effect in March.

For the most part, this change in our way of working has been successful. But the coronavirus alert level has been downgraded from four to three, and the government has updated its guidance on how non-retail businesses can work. This means it’s time to work in the office again. A coronavirus risk assessment helps us do that.

Adapting to Covid-19

In many ways, the last three months has been a nationwide experiment in change. We have had to adapt to the coronavirus lockdown by:

  • dealing with the psychological and physical effects of a devastating disease and pandemic
  • wearing facemasks
  • using gloves, hand sanitiser, and washing hands more frequently and carefully
  • remote working
  • changing how we interact with our clients, the courts, and others.

Remote Working Results

Some expressed doubts about whether the UK workforce would succeed.  I am pleased to report that my firm’s lawyers are capable of remote working for extended periods.

Our clients tell us that we have been able to keep up our usual high standards of service. My team and I have worked productively on cases using our cutting-edge facilities. The new laptops I bought for them before the lockdown really helped. They help us use video conferencing, phones, chats, emails etc. to keep in touch and collaborate on work. (A quick shout out to our IT and phone people. Their work has been crucial in making remote-working happen. Thank you to them all.)

Remote working has been so successful that we will continue with it in some capacity in future. There are clear benefits in terms of the impact on staff, the environment, and other factors.

Benefits of Office Working

But, despite the success of remote working, we are all itching to come back to work. Video calls are great, but there is no substitute for being together to brainstorm an issue on a client’s case, or just pop into each other’s rooms for a catch up. We all get on and miss seeing each other face-to-face. The social aspect of being at work is important and cannot be ignored.

Conducting a Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Recently the government lifted the work from home restrictions, subject to non-essential businesses following official guidance. I have reviewed the recommendations, conducted a thorough coronavirus risk assessment, and implemented a COVID-19 Return to Work Policy in consultation with my staff.

This was a detailed project. I had to consider all aspects of work, our office layout, and the needs of my team. Following the risk assessment, I determined that we could return to work in the office, subject to restrictions.

Changes to How We Work

We re-open the office from Tuesday 23 June 2020. But it won’t be business as usual:

  • Continuing our lockdown period policy, we will not have face-to-face meetings with anyone, in the office or elsewhere. This includes clients, barristers, suppliers, and others. The risk of infection was, and remains, too high.
  • We will work flexibly in the office. We will stagger start and end times and avoid peak public transport times. This might result in staff not being available at times but it’s safer for them.
  • Everyone in the office will get, and must use, face masks, hand sanitiser, and gloves. I have installed hand sanitiser units throughout and encouraged regular use. Social distancing measures and markings have been put in place.
  • I hope to further reduce the risk of external infection by getting the office deep-cleaned regularly and using a quarantine room for post and deliveries.
  • Lastly, no staff members can come to the office if they, or members of their household, have any coronavirus symptoms. This is not a time to be that person who thinks they must come in even if they, or someone in their home, feels ill.

Despite these steps, no one can guarantee protection from coronavirus. I hope that, with these measures and the support of my fantastic team, we can mitigate the risk as far as possible.

Final Thoughts

We are lucky that none of us at Donoghue Solicitors has been directly affected by covid-19, but some of our friends and relatives have. We have seen the devastating effects of the illness first-hand. Our sympathies are with all those who have been affected by this terrible disease.

Kevin Donoghue is the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors.