The Case of the Supermarket Dalek Leading to a No Win No Fee Claim

Some of you will be familiar with Dr Who’s sworn enemy, the Daleks, who look like a cross between a washing basket and a tin can. The following is a guest post opportunity courtesy of the marketing team at a firm of no win no fee solicitors in Stockport.

Scroll down to the bottom of the blog post if you would also like to submit an article for review.

This week, I will be looking at a recent case that was heard in the Scots courts involving a Dalek of another kind. This “dalek” is an articulated stool that is used to reach objects at a height (see picture lower down the article), so named, as Lady Stacey remarked in Gilchrist v Asda Stores Ltd [2015] CSOH 77, because

“of its shape which is reminiscent of the robot known as a dalek in the well-known television programme”.

dalek-stoolThe injured party (the pursuer) was supermarket worker Elizabeth Gilchrist.

She raised an action against her employer ASDA (the defenders) following an accident hanging up clothes at a Stockport store, where she fell off the stool and

“caught her ankle”.

The legal team for the pursuer’s main argument was that a risk assessment had not been properly carried out by ASDA. As stated in the written judgment,

“[the defenders] knew or ought to have known that manual handling at height will require movement which will increase the risk of injury. They knew or ought to have known that requiring employees to stand on a dalek platform to carry out the manual handling task of hanging clothes presented a risk of falling. They knew or ought to have known that the pursuer was only 5 feet tall, and would have to raise her arms above her and reach to hang clothing, which may cause her to lose her balance”.

The pursuer’s legal team of no win no fee solicitors used another piece of equipment as an example to demonstrate their point. This ASDA store in Stockport also used airport style steps in the grocery area, but unlike the dalek stool, these airport steps have a handrail.

It was therefore argued that a risk assessment was not properly carried out, as if it had been, the pursuer would have been provided with airport style steps as they would allow her to regain her footing if she fell.

Furthermore, Ms Gilchrist’s personal injury solicitors argued that there was no specific risk assessment for the task of hanging up clothes. Given this contrast in equipment, the main question for the court was the following:

“As a matter of law was the defender under a duty to provide airport style steps?”

Ultimately, Lady Stacey found in favour of ASDA. This was because the dalek stool had been used for many years, and was used for similar tasks within libraries (i.e. putting books on shelves at a height). Another argument that worked against the pursuer was that she was not actually engaged in hanging up clothes at the time of her accident – she fell after she had finished her task.

Her legal team of personal injury lawyers did not aver that the stool was unsafe, which may have worked in her favour even if she did fall after she hung the clothes up. Lady Stacey also found that ASDA had performed their risk assessment to the statutory standard.

This case shows how carefully you must document and prepare your case in order to be successful. The pursuer did admit that she had finished her task before the accident. Had her no win no fee solicitor decided to base their argument on the safety of the stool rather than comparing the stool to another piece of equipment, the case may have worked in her favour.

If you do have an accident at work, it’s important to be aware of any obligations upon you and complete any necessary training.

Should you fail to do so, in the event of an accident, the onus would be on you for not following regulations correctly rather than your employer.

This guest post was researched, compiled, edited, and published by the No Win No Fee Solicitors of Stockport. Many thanks for their valuable contribution, and I hope it is one of many that they will supply in the future. Previously they supplied a piece of advertorial which is an opportunity open to any other legal firms or personal injury solicitors. You just need to ask.

PS: Somewhat off topic, but when searching for supplementary video on this case (I always try to find something that I believe will enhance my blog posts) I stumbled across this hilarious video:

Road Traffic Accidents Abroad Leading to Personal Injury Claims

Roads in foreign countries can be very busy and can unfortunately be very dangerous. This blog looks at a motor accident in Portugal, and how contributory negligence is viewed by the courts. It’s essential reading for any aspiring personal injury solicitor, or for those working in the field of no win no fee injury claims. Occasionally I will post in-depth studies such as this, so please subscribe to my RSS feed if you want to get insight such as this on a monthly basis.

In Vann & Others v Ocidental – Companhia De Seguros S.A.Mr Vann was killed and Mrs Vann was seriously injured when walking across the road late at night in the Algarve when they were struck by a Citroen Xsara driven by a Mr Odilon Profeta de Sà. At first instance, the judge found no contributory negligence, but this was not so on appeal.

An original reporting on the case.
An original reporting on the case.

Although the case was heard on appeal in England, as the parties affected were UK citizens, Portuguese law applied. However, their view on contributory negligence is similar to ours. As summarised in the case:

When a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian there is a presumption that the driver is liable, unless the driver shows that the pedestrian was at fault. Where both parties are at fault, the court apportions liability applying principles which are essentially the same as our law of contributory negligence.

The defendant in the original case (the insurer of Mr de Sà) appealed on the grounds that the Vanns contributed to their accident.

The Evidence

The Vann’s daughter gave the following evidence, as summarised by the judge:

When they left the restaurant she said they all walked to the road together. They had driven down the road on several occasions and she was aware of the slight bend in the road. She said she remembered looking along the road from the left to right to see if she could cross the road and seeing it was clear to cross. She did that twice, then walked. She thought they crossed at slightly different times when they considered it safe to cross. She thought that her husband stepped off with her, after her brother and his partner. Her husband then went ahead of her. She hung back a little as she was talking to her parents as they crossed the road. She was, she thought, an arms length in front of her mother and at one point she turned around and over her left shoulder said something to her. She had just reached the edge of the road when she heard a huge screech of tyres and turned around to see a car hit both her mother and father, sending them flying down the road. She said that the car passed very close to her and she was very lucky not to be hit. She did not hear the noise of the car engine as they approached the road or as they were crossing it. She did not see any headlights either. She said she is extremely road conscious and all of them walked across the road at a normal speed. She said that she had no recollection of seeing any headlights; if she had, she would not have carried on crossing the road.”

Mr de Và gave written evidence that he hit the pedestrians at around 70 km/hour with his headlights on.

On appeal, the facts of the case were looked at in a slightly different light. Although it was accepted that Mr de Và had been driving too fast, as “the car had its headlights on and the engine was audible … Mr and Mrs Vann ought to have noticed its approach before they crossed the centre of the road.”  Responsibility was apportioned 80:20 between the driver and Mr and Mrs Vann.

Driving Conditions in Portugal – A YouTube Video

This case shows that although sometimes pedestrians cause accidents, the driver will bear the brunt of the responsibility in any case because they are driving something that can be construed as a lethal weapon (i.e. a car). It also shows that if you are the defendant in a PI case, appealing is a good course of action, particularly where both parties have contributed to the accident occurring.

  1. Vann & Others v Ocidental – Companhia De Seguros S.A, [2015] EWCA Civ 572, 04/06/2015. Accessed electronically at Last accessed 12/07/2015.
  2. Op. cit, at para 19.
  3. Op. cit, at para 22.
  4. Op. cit, at para 36.

New Feature: Interview with the Head of These No Win No Fee Bristol Solicitors

Not something I usually do, but have had my arm twisted! It’s going to be a new and perhaps even regular feature of the blog where I interview the leading thinkers in the personal injury world.  Whether they are actual personal injury solicitors, people working in marketing, or perhaps even people who have used the no win no fee approach to get their thoughts.

Bob Wilson of No Win No Fee Solicitors Bristol

bristol-logoThe first person that I am conducting an interview with this month is a guy called Bob Wilson who runs the Personal Injury Bristol firm and website – they are no win no fee solicitors in Bristol who have a solid reputation in the town for providing an excellent legal service.

If you want to be interview then please do talk to me. I really appreciate him giving up some of his time today, so here’s the interview in full with details on how he works and how they run no win no fee in the Bristol area.

Hello Bob, so how exactly did you end up doing what you do today?

I grew up in the Bristol area and went to a local school. In the early days I had an interest in property management but then kind of stumbled into personal injury law and no win no fee whilst talking to a friend of mine who was a personal injury and no win no fee solicitor in Bristol.  In his view I would be a great addition to his team to he asked me to get involved and be office manager.

Skip to today and I now head up the no win no fee team for Bristol.  For more information please visit our no win no fee solicitors website as that has all of the information you would need.

What is the toughest part about running a firm of no win no fee solicitors?

I am sure you and your readers already know this but the UK has seen some large changes recently in how no win no fee solicitors can work – and I will be honest that has had an effect on how we work and our marketing efforts in Bristol. The team have really had to adapt to the methods of working and in particular how new business is generated.  We seem to be doing ok though and the customer is always of our utmost concern.

Note: If you are unsure on the changes then please visit the Ministry of Justice website.

How do you make yourselves look different from other no win no fee solicitors in the Bristol area?

I think a lot of it is due to personality and how we talk with our clients. It’s no secret that a lot of people find it daunting having to talk to a solicitor or lawyer so we try to mitigate that by only employing people who we think fit our brand’s character.

Thanks to Bob Wilson to agreeing to the interview.  If you need a no win no fee solicitor in Bristol then please do visit his website and call the number to speak to a member of his team.

Personal Injury News Round-Up For April 2015

In a new feature, each and every month I will attempt to do a round-up of the news currently doing the rounds in the World of personal injury.  If you have any news you would like to submit then please talk to me.

The most interesting piece of news this month, and I think it deserves the full feature is that of a personal injury claims company who have had to close down due to fines.  Many news outlets have reported that Direct Assist have entered liquidation following a fine from the ICO.

They were given a very large fine for making multiple nuisance calls to members of the public and it was reported that between January 2013 and July 2014, the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) registered 801 concerns about Direct Assist Ltd, a company which offered access to solicitors for personal injury insurance claims.

The details of the case make for very uncomfortable reading, especially for those who run genuine personal injury claims businesses and adhere to regulation.  Direct Assist were using some very bad practices and hounding some customers with one reported to receiving nearly 500 calls!

Quite unbelievable stuff really.

I plan to follow up on this story in May’s round up as it probably will run and run a little longer.

How These Personal Injury Solicitors in Stockport Use Online Marketing

In most cases my blog posts will tend to be about a piece of recent news from the World of personal injury, an observation on how people are working in the field, or just some form of irreverent gossip.  This week it was the middle option, where I wanted to take a closer look at how one particular firm of personal injury solicitors were using online marketing to their advantage.

Jason Trent of Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport

About three years ago I met a guy called Jason Trent who was quite unusual in the legal world, as he really understood the digital and online world.  At the time he told me how he was setting up a new website called Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport, and his plans for marketing and driving new customers to the door or to make a phone call.  At the time I was struck by Jason’s ambition and plans, and had always made a mental note to keep checking back to see how his personal injury lawyers website was getting on.

Personal Injury Solicitors and The Internet

In my view, personal injury solicitors, and generally speaking many people in the law world don’t really “get” how to use the Internet to make their business better, to get more leads, or how to present themselves as a brand.  With Jason, it’s a little bit different.  He has a background in law, plus has worked in online marketing agencies so is expertly placed to offer his feelings on how personal injury solicitors and lawyers can make more of the web.

The Website
Look and feel and branding is very important.

If you’ve not seen the Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport website then I really do recommend that you check it out because it’s a superb example of what lawyers can do if they want the phone to ring more.

I asked Jason what his top 5 tips were for personal injury solicitors wanting to make better websites, and how they can harness the online medium to get more business.  Here are his 5 top tips which I hope will help anyone reading the blog today.

Number 1: Brand and Look and Feel

Always make your website look professional and make it stand out from the crowd.  With Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport I made a concerted effort to make it look slick, but also trustworthy at the same time.  Many personal injury law firms have out of date websites that don’t really engender that feeling.  Most people using the web make a decision very quickly so first appearances really do count.

Number 2: Understand How Google Works

The Google search engine accounts for nearly 90% of the search engine market in the UK, so you need to make sure that your website is optimised correctly.  Don’t over-optimise the website or stuff keywords into it.  Read up on how SEO can be used and then design the website content around those guidelines.  Our Stockport personal injury website now gets 40% more visits since we did this exercise a few months ago.

Number 3: Embrace Social Media

Potential clients now expect to be able to contact businesses quickly and easily over social media.  Make sure that you have Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter accounts and be able to react and answer questions swiftly for people looking for accident claims and personal injury advice. Our solicitors do this and have now built up a great reputation in Stockport for doing so.  It’s definitely leads to repeat business.  These guys do a great job of using Facebook so worth looking at them if you get a moment.

Number 4: Monitor the Web for Mentions

It’s so important to keep track on what people are talking about when it comes to your business.  Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport track mentions online so that they can respond, plus also look at forums to see where they can help people in Stockport who need a personal injury lawyer.  It’s helped to build up more business and a trusted reputation.

Number 5: Always Keep Learning

The web is an ever moving and evolving medium that needs constant attention.  For example this month Google will be de-valuing websites that are not mobile-friendly.  I know that there are plenty of personal injury solicitors who are not aware of this and could be losing business very soon.  If you can afford it employ the services of an online or digital marketing expert to support you and your business aims.  It really does pay to use an expert.  You can see some great recommend companies on the Moz website.

So there you have it.  Many thanks to Jason Trent of Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport for this essential advice.  In the next few months I plan to develop a guide which I will sell online that contains online marketing advice and tips for solicitors and lawyers so please do visit back to keep an eye out for that.

Final Thoughts From Me – Who Would You Pick?

My final thoughts are this; when it comes to employing the services of a personal injury solicitor, who would you rather use?  Would it be the firm that had a great online presence and took the time to answer all of your questions and be available on social media… or would it be the other guys; the staid looking out of touch and out of date law firm.  I will let you decide the answer on that one but to be honest I think it’s pretty obvious, especially if you don’t have the benefit of any personal recommendations for a personal injury solicitor.

Not only that but where Jason talks about SEO and content I think it’s so important to create new pages for the different types of accident claim that people in your area might be looking for. For example, does your website have a page about cycling accident claims?  That’s a great way in which you can pick up new customers believe me as I’ve seen it in action.

Do You Want to Contribute?

If you work in the legal field, personal injury law, or otherwise and would like to publish your thoughts on the blog about how to generate more business for a law firm then I would love to hear from you.  Unfortunately I cannot publish everything but will reply to each and every email from my readers.

What Happens to Debt When Someone Dies from a Law Perspective?

Here’s the next in what will be an ever growing series of comments and answers from a legal perspective.  You can read the first blog post here.

Usually when thinking about the financial affairs of someone who has passed away, the first thing people think of is inheritance and distributing assets. However, it is also important to consider what happens when a loved one leaves behind minor or significant debts and to understand how they are dealt with.

This post considers different debts that could be left behind by a loved on and how they are deal with both practically and by the law.

What happens to debts when someone dies?

When a person passes away, any debts that they owe are paid out of their estate. Your estate is the name for any money and property that you leave behind. You will only be responsible for the debts of a deceased person if you had a joint loan or agreement or you acted as a guarantor for that person. You will not be held automatically responsible for a partner, spouse or civil partner’s debts.

What makes up a persons estate?

The estate of the deceased is made up of any cash (including from insurance payout), any investments, property and possessions they left behind.

The estate of the deceased person is dealt with by one or more executors – you can appoint a solicitor to be your executor or any family members or friends who you believe would be able to carry out the role.
In the event that the estate is worth over a certain amount, the executor must apply to the court for special permission (known as Confirmation) to enable them to deal with the deceased’s affairs, including paying off any debts.

What happens if there is not enough to pay the deceased’s debts?

Where there is not enough in the deceased’s estate to pay off all of the debts owed, the debts must be paid out in a certain priority order until the money from the estate runs out. Debts must be paid out before anything can be given to people named in the will.

What if I owned a home with the deceased?

If you and the deceased person owned a home together and there is not enough money in the estate to pay the debts of the deceased, you may have to sell your home. The options available to you will depend greatly on whether you owned it jointly with or without an automatic destination to the survivor in the title to the property.

If you are unsure about this, you can speak to a solicitor.

Jointly with no destination to the survivor

This means that in the will, there is no automatic transfer of the deceased share in the property to the person they jointly own the property with.

If this is the case, the share of the property belonging to the deceased person will become party of their estate and go to whoever is mentioned in their Will. However, if there are outstanding debts on the estate, these must first be paid out. In order to avoid the sale of your jointly owned home, you would have to negotiate with those who are owed money by the deceased and find a way to pay the money that is owed to the creditors.

Jointly with a destination to the survivor

Where this is the case, the person’s share of the jointly owned property will automatically pass to you under what is known as a ‘survivorship’ clause.

However, even though the property passes into your possession, the debts still cannot be ignored.

It is possible for creditors to apply for sequestration of the deceased’s estate within 5 years of the debt occurring.

If sequestration is granted, the person appointed as trustee in sequestration can raise an action and ask the court to divide the property and force the sale of the property.

How are other debts paid off?

Mortgages: The mortgage lender may have required life insurance – this could pay off the outstanding mortgage. However, if there is no insurance, or any second mortgages that are not covered by insurance, the property may have to be sold to pay off the outstanding mortgage.

Rent arrears: If you had a joint tenancy with the deceased, you will be responsible for paying off any rent arrears.

Council Tax and Rates: If anyone still lives in the former home of the deceased, they will be responsible for any ongoing charges. However, if the property becomes unoccupied, there may be certain discounts and exemptions availiable. You can check with your local authority to see if any of them apply to the property.

Fuel bills: If you have been living in a property jointly with the deceased, you may be personally liable for any outstanding fuel bills.

Hire purchase agreements: With a hire purchase agreement, the buyer does not own the property until the last payment has been made. On the other hand, if over a third of the payment has been made, the seller will require a court order to get the property back.

Before you return the goods or making any payments, you should check to see if there was a payment protection plan in place.

Personal loans, credit cards and credit debt: If cards are held jointly, any debts will be the joint holder’s responsibility – but check to see if you’re covered by a payment protection plan.

Tax debts and overpaid benefits: Any tax that is owed by the deceased, or any benefits or pension payment that have been made in error, will be paid out of the estae of the deceased.

To avoid overpayment happening, and also to check if any tax is owed, you should contact the relevant office as soon as possible. It is important to keep in mind that the Department of Work and Pensions often makes claims against estates so this is something you cannot simply ignore.

They will check the form lodges with the Sheriff Clerk for Confirmation and will compare this with their own records to assess the means tested benefits received by the deceased.

If they find a discrepancy, they are likely to lodge a claim against the deceased’s estate to recover this. It is a good idea to check whether any benefits or tax is owed before distributing the remainder of an estate if you are appointed as the executor.

London Most Common For Cyclist Accidents

A quick and easy blog post that I put together on a subject that is actually very close to my heart due to being personally involved in a bike accident in London.

Statistics reveal that London remains the most dangerous city for cyclists despite potential redevelopment.


Transport for London have expressed their determination to make London more “bike-friendly” by redeveloping some of the most dangerous areas of the city for cyclists.

According to statistics the number of cycling journeys has risen from 270,000 to 580,000 in just over ten years, with roughly 475 biking accidents occurring in London, and 14 fatal accidents in the capital in 2013.

Despite the number of car and bike journeys increasing, injuries and accidents are fortunately not increasing at the same rate as 1990s levels, with the ratio of bike injuries to accidents decreasing.

Notorious Danger Spots

Some of London’s roundabouts, such as the Elephant and Castle roundabout, are the top danger spots in the UK, with Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) being one of the main dangers to cyclists.

Research showed that 21% of all serious injuries in regards to cyclists in London involved a minibus, however collisions with HGV vehicles were the most common type of fatal accident, with 6.8% of all fatal accidents being from collisions with HGVs. A quarter of all deaths were a result of incidents involving vehicles weighing more than seven and a half tonnes.

Rush hour remains the most dangerous time for cyclists, with 25% of all the city’s traffic on the road, 36% of which uses the Elephant and Castle roundabout.


Transport for London announced that they are intending to invest over £300 million in redeveloping 33 junctions and roundabouts in the capital in order to make them more bike friendly.

The move comes following statistics that show over 4,500 cyclists were injured in London in the last year. According to Andy Cawdell, a co-founder of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), the reform will not be effective due to London’s roads being “too busy and non-malleable”.

Possible solutions suggested to reduce accidents have involved attempts to redirect traffic and provide cyclists with clearer routes and greater space and vision. Despite the efforts, London still remains the deadliest and most likely place for cyclists to be involved in accidents.

Cycling Accident Claims for Personal Injury

If you have been involved in an accident with a vehicle and injured as a result, then I recommend that you contact a no win, no fee personal injury lawyer who will be able to help. Cyclists are vulnerable road users. Due to the lack of protection they have, they can receive serious and lengthy injuries following an accident, that can also leave them out of pocket due to the extent of their injuries.

If you have been involved in an accident with a vehicle and your injuries are not too serious, you should exchange details with the driver, take note of the vehicle registration, the driver’s name, address, telephone number and, if possible, their insurer. Make sure you check these details to ensure they are accurate.

As well as the details of the driver, if there are any witnesses that may be able to back up your claim, it is important to also get their details so that they can be contacted to support your account of events.

If you have been seriously injured, your safety is paramount, ensure you are in a safe place and seek medical support as soon as possible. 

Most Common Types of Cycling Accidents

Cyclists can be dismounted or injured through many types of accidents such as:

  • Cars colliding with cyclists at busy junctions or roundabouts
  • Drivers pulling out on minor roads into path of cyclist
  • Bike wheels getting stuck in tram tracks, potholes or any iron work
  • Cyclists being struck by doors of vehicles being swung open