Medomsley Detention Centre

Medomsley Detention Centre

What is Medomsley Detention Centre?

Medomsley Detention Centre was a male youth detention centre in County Durham. Over 1000 men have come forward about physical and sexual abuse that took place in Medomsley predominantly in the 1970s and 1980s.

What is ‘Operation Seabrook’?

Operation Seabrook is the name for the ongoing criminal investigation into the abuse that happened in Medomsley. A task force at Durham Constabulary are looking into the allegations of physical and sexual abuse. The allegations are against members of staff that worked in Medomsley. The investigation started in 2013 and is investigating many allegations spanning several years but mainly in the 1970s and 1980s.

What to do if you suffered abuse in Medomsley

You should report the abuse to the police as soon as possible. Before giving a full statement to the police you should write down as many details as you can remember – dates, names and locations etc.

Contact a solicitor specialising in the field of child abuse to discuss whether you are able to pursue a claim. There is no need to wait until the outcome of the criminal investigation before getting some advice.

Making a claim for compensation

If you were detained in Medomsley Detention Centre and suffered any abuse at the hands of the staff you may be able to make a compensation claim.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP is currently representing several hundreds of clients who suffered abuse whilst at Medomsley Detention Centre.

It may be possible to claim compensation from the Ministry of Justice who were responsible for running the detention centre or alternatively the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

Is it too late to make a claim for compensation?

The short answer is no. However we recommend that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

What about other non-recent abuse?

Medomsley Detention Centre is not the only place to receive reports of non-recent physical and sexual abuse (also sometimes referred to as ‘historic abuse’). There are other detention centres including Kirklevington Young Offenders Institute and children’s homes that have also been involved in non-recent abuse claims. It may be possible to make a claim against other places and you should contact a solicitor for more advice.

If you suffered abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre, or suffered any other non-recent abuse please contact our specialist solicitors today: Richard Hardy or Andrew Freckleton on 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk

Medomsley Detention Centre – The updates 

April 2019:

  • Former officers are jailed for offences at Medomsley Detention Centre
  • Ben Hoare Bell LLP write to the Home Secretary and The Chair of the IICSA calling for a public inquiry into the abuse which took place at Medomsley Detention Centre.  The call is supported by The Chronicle.

March 2019:

  • Five former officers of Medomsley Detention Centre are convicted of physical abuse

September 2018:

  • Criminal proceedings against several former officers commence at Teesside Crown Court.

August 2018:

  • 11 men investigated as part of Operation Seabrook will face no further action.

July 2018:

  • 7 former officers of Medomsley Detention Centre appeared at Teesside Crown Court on 29 June 2018.
  • All former officers entered not guilty pleas.
  • All former officers have been bailed to return to court for separate trials later this year.

January 2018:

  • 7 former officers of Medomsley Detention Centre appeared at Teesside Crown Court on 16 January 2018.
  • All the former officers are charged with misconduct in a public office and physical abuse with some officers also charged with sex offences.
  • None of the defendants entered pleas at court.
  • A further hearing is listed in June 2018 when it is anticipated pleas will be entered.
  • A trial date has been set for 3 September 2018. It is expected that the trial will last several months.

December 2017:

  • 7 former officers of Medomsley Detention Centre have appeared in court this week. They were charged with a number of offences including physical abuse and sexual abuse of former inmates.
  • Approximately 1400 men have claimed they were abused by officers whilst serving sentences at Medomsely in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • No pleas were entered at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court this week. Instead the former officers were bailed and will now appear at Teesside Crown Court on 16 January 2018.

August 2016:

  • It was hoped that by the middle of 2016 the CPS would have reached a decision as to whether any former officers of the detention centre would be charged with criminal offences.
  • Due to the complex nature of the case and scale of the investigation we do not expect a charging decision to be made for several more months and most likely not until next year.

July 2016:

  • On 25 July 2016 the trial started of former Church Minister George Granville Gibson at Durham Crown Court. He is accused of 8 charges of indecent assault against two men dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The charges against Gibson arose from Durham Constabulary’s Operation Seabrook. One of the charges against Gibson relates to an alleged indecent assault during a visit to an inmate at Medomsley.
  • Papers are still with the CPS and we are waiting for a decision as to whether any former members of staff will be prosecuted.
  • Over 1350 survivors of abuse at Medomsley have reported the abuse to Durham Constabulary.

February 2016:

  • As part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the abuse at Medomsley statements have been obtained from former inmates.
  • Several members of staff have also been identified and formally interviewed.
  • It is hoped by the middle of 2016 the CPS will have reached a decision as to whether any former officers of the detention centre will be charged with criminal offences.

December 2015:

  • On 27 November 2015 Hon Lowell Goddard announced details of the 12 initial investigations of the Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse set up by the Government.
  • One of the 12 initial investigations will look into Medomsley Detention Centre. This is separate to the ongoing criminal investigation being carried out by Durham Constabulary.
  • The Goddard Inquiry will conduct its own investigation into Medomsley. It has a budget of £17.9 million covering all 12 investigations in the first year.

July 2015:

  • As part of the police investigation 20 former members of staff have been formally interviewed about the abuse.
  • Files have now been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service who will assess the available evidence with a view to make a charging decision by early 2016.
  • It is anticipated that any trial would then take place towards Autumn 2016.

April 2015:

  • Durham Constabulary have now been contacted by over 1000 former inmates who report that they were physically and/or sexually abused by members of staff between the 1960s and 1980s.
  • Two former members of staff at Medomsley Detention Centre have been arrested by Durham Constabulary in relation to the abuse.
  • The police investigation continues with officers working to trace and interview at least a dozen more former members of staff.

February 2015:

  • Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors met with Chief Investigating Officer Paul Goundry who confirmed that Durham Constabulary have now been contacted by up to 1000 former inmates of Medomsley Detention Centre.
  • The operation is believed to be the largest ever investigation into child abuse in the UK.
  • Former officers are to be voluntarily questioned by the police.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)

FGM FAQs

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Female Genital Mutilation (also known as ‘female circumcision’ and often abbreviated to FGM) is the cutting, stretching or incising of the female genitals for cultural or or traditional reasons.

Since 1985 female genital mutilation has been a criminal offence in the UK both under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 and later the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. However prosecutions under the criminal law have been extremely rare.

Thousands of young girls in the UK are susceptible to being a victim of female genital mutilation. A particularly risky time of year is over the summer holidays when young girls are often taken abroad under the guise of visiting friends and family. Unfortunately the girls then become victims to FGM while they are out of the country. Between July and September 2015 there were 1,385 newly recorded cases of FGM in England.

In most cases FGM is a deeply held belief that it is the right thing to do. However it is a traumatic and painful ordeal for females and the practice often leads to medical complications and sometimes death. As most cases involve tight knit families and communities it is understandable that the criminal route is not always favourable. Therefore there is a now a civil route that people can take to prevent FGM from happening to their child or a child in their care.

In July 2015 new civil provisions came into force under the Serious Crime Act 2015. This makes it possible to apply to the Family Court for a ‘Female Genital Mutilation Protection Order’ (‘FGMPO’). It then becomes a criminal offence if someone breaches the order. If convicted the penalty could be up to 5 years in prison.

An FGM Protection Order could cover a variety of things including the following:

  1. Passport confiscation so the child cannot be taken abroad;
  2. Stop contact between the child and individual’s you suspect of wanting to take the child to perform FGM;
  3. Remand someone in custody;
  4. Order mandatory medical checks;
  5. Instruct a potential victim to live at a particular address so authorities can monitor.

Importantly, victims are also given anonymity for life. This makes it a criminal offence for anyone to identify a victim including on social media.

If you are a doctor, nurse, teacher or social worker there is now a duty on you to report any case of FGM that you are aware of if it involves someone under the age of 18. If you fail to report it you risk losing your job. The Home Office has released guidance for mandatory reporting.

Cris McCurley, Partner and Head of the International Family Law department specialises in a range of cultural and international family law issues. This includes FGM, child abduction, forced marriage and honour based violence.

In 2015 Cris McCurley contributed to an article in the Guardian explaining the development since the FGM Protection Orders came into force.

Cris has also written an insightful article on the issue of FGM in the Legal Aid Group Magazine: FGM – Why prosecutions are not the answer

If you are concerned about a child being taken away to undergo FGM please seek legal advice as soon as possible. Speak to one of our experienced team on 0191 275 2626.

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Property and Financial Disputes

Property and Financial Disputes

If your relationship comes to an end one of the biggest areas of conflict will involve assets. This could include property, savings, debts, shares or other investments. Issues could include financial maintenance if you were dependent on your spouse. It could also include financial maintenance for children or retaining the family home to bring up the children.

We have a specialist team of solicitors who are experienced in dealing with property and financial disputes following relationships breakdown. From the start we will look at all the assets involved and seek the best arrangement for you. We will be honest and up front about what you can expect and we will speak plain English to ensure you are fully aware of what is happening. Our solicitors are skilled in negotiation but will not do anything without your full support.

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Domestic Violence Solicitors

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence can take many different forms – physical, sexual, financial or emotional. Each case is different apart from the fact that none of them should happen.

As most forms of domestic violence are criminal offences you should also speak to the police. However if you do not want to go down the criminal route there are civil options available to you. We can apply for an injunction against the person committing the domestic violence. For example this can prevent the other person from threatening you or contacting you. In serious situations we can apply for emergency injunctions which means the other person is not aware that we are making the application.

We can apply for non-molestation orders, occupation orders and prohibited steps orders amongst others.

We can deal with emergency situations and will aim to meet you on the same day. We also have many links with local refuge centres around the North East and we will seek to ensure you are put out of immediate danger and put you in contact with one of these places.

If you are suffering domestic abuse please contact us as soon as possible as there are usually many options available to you.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.

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Agreements Between Couples

PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

Before entering a serious relationship such as marriage or a civil partnership you might be considering what you can do about your assets. Even though we hope there will be no breakdown in the relationship it is sensible to prepare for any eventuality.

A prenuptial agreement could be a suitable option if you have substantial assets you want to protect or if there are children involved.

We can advise you on the benefits of prenuptial agreements and ensure the agreement is drafted properly so that it is more likely to be enforceable if needed down the line.


COHABITATION AGREEMENTS

If you are not married or in a civil partnership you do not have any special legal status with your partner. People often think that they are in a ‘common law marriage’ because they have lived together for a period of time. This is not the case and this does not entitle you to make a claim on any asset or for maintenance if the relationship breaks down.

Therefore it is often wise to make a cohabitation agreement. This is a contract between you and your partner which outlines what will happen to property, finances and other assets if the relationship breaks down.

We can advise you on the legal procedures for making a cohabitation agreement as it is a legal document that needs to be signed and witnessed. We will also discuss with you the best course of action and how we can protect your assets if your relationship does break down.

No one wants to think about their relationship coming to an end, however making a cohabitation agreement is a sensible idea to increase the chance of the break up being amicable.


SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

Separation is sometimes used as an alternative to divorce. For example if a couple no longer want to be in a relationship with each other but do not want a divorce. By drawing up a separation agreement this will recognise the separation and will also deal with issues such as property, finance and children. Although the court can overturn the terms in a separation agreement it is still a good base for you and your partner to work from.

For further advice on any of the above agreements please contact our Family Team.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.


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Collaborative Family Law

Family Law Solicitors providing Collaborative Family Law Services

Many couples in the UK that grow apart over the years or separate due to differences that are simply to hard to reconcile are not actually angry with each other. They simply wish to close this chapter of their lives and start the next one. Such couples may find a collaborative approach to divorce, assisted by our team of Family Law Solicitors in North East England, far more pleasant and cost effective than court proceedings.

The Collaborative Family Law advice in North East England that is provided by our collaborative law specialists is aimed at ensuring that you and your partner are able to reach mutually agreeable decisions. This includes the division of marital assets, custody of children if applicable and any other issues that need to be settled before you can go your separate ways. All negotiations are carried out face to face in a local meeting room, attended by you, your family law solicitor in North East England, your spouse and their legal representative. Because all lawyers who participate in a collaborative law process must sign an agreement barring them from representing either party in court should negotiations break down, you can be sure that everybody involved is fully committed to achieving a successful outcome.

In addition to our family lawyers in North East England, you may also wish to instruct financial advisors and any other professional consultants that you would like to advise you during the meetings.

Ben Hoare Bell has a specialist Collaborative Family Law solicitor, Mark Harrison. Mark has been specially trained by Resolution, and is a member of Collaborative Family Law North East, meaning that he is extremely experienced in Collaborative Family Law.

Staying in Control of Your Separation or Divorce

One of the reasons that many couples find collaborative family law a more appealing option than divorcing in a court is the fact that they are able to maintain control over the agenda at all times. You and your spouse can decide to tackle the issues that are most important to you, rather than having the agenda set by a Judge in a courtroom. If you need to consult our family or childcare lawyers in North East England during negotiations, they will be on hand. However you and your partner will remain in control of the meetings at all times.

Mark offers an initial, free of charge meeting at any of our offices, to give you further information about the collaborative law process. Please contact Mark on 0191 477 6333 to discuss your particular situation.

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Police Misconduct Solicitors

Police Misconduct

The police and other state bodies have a duty to protect individuals and provide security. We put our faith in them to keep us safe and to treat us fairly. Unfortunately that is not always the case and sometimes police overstep the mark, act oppressively, unfairly or negligently.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist solicitors with experience in the following areas:

  • Unlawful arrest (also known as wrongful arrest)
  • Unnecessary or unreasonable time spent in custody (also known as false imprisonment)
  • Unreasonable force by the police (including assault and the use of CS spray and Taser guns)
  • Prosecution without good cause (also known as malicious prosecution)
  • Inquests and deaths in custody
  • Lost or damaged property at the hands of police
  • Judicial review of public body decisions, such as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), and a Coroner at an Inquest
  • Breaches of human rights
  • Civil liberties and Protest law
  • Misfeasance (abuse of power by the police)

Richard Hardy is a specialist in actions against the police. He has many years’ experience in this field and is part of the Police Actions Lawyers Group (PALG).

Please contact our Police Misconduct team to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

In the video below Richard gives a brief introduction to Police Misconduct.

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MAKING A COMPLAINT

There are many situations where you might feel like a victim of police misconduct. If you have experienced unsatisfactory treatment by the police you are entitled to make a complaint. Depending on the nature of the complaint it will be investigated by either the Police Force itself or with varying levels of involvement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Complaints may include treatment that was degrading, embarrassing or involved the use of unreasonable force. It could also include instances where you were treated unfairly, such as being kept in custody longer than necessary, or where you were arrested when you should not have been.

If any of these situations apply to you, or if you believe you are a victim of police misconduct in any other way you deserve to have your voice heard. When this happens there are procedures in place to ensure the police are held accountable and justice is upheld.

At Ben Hoare Bell we are committed to fighting your corner and achieving justice. To ensure your complaint is worthwhile and effective it is important that you receive legal advice from a specialist in actions against the police.

Most clients want to know what will happen as a result of their complaint. As a police complaint is made about an individual police officer the likely outcomes if successful are either disciplinary proceedings or criminal proceedings, depending on the circumstances. Making a complaint that is likely to reach one of these outcomes involves a complex process. This is why we are committed to guiding and advising you at every stage, ensuring the complaint has the strongest chance of success.

If your objective is to receive a cash sum making a complaint is not suitable. In order to receive a financial award for the wrongdoing that you have suffered you will need to make a claim for compensation. Making a complaint and submitting a claim for compensation can be done at the same time. However you should seek specialist legal advice to ensure you do what is right in your situation.


MAKING A CLAIM

Different factors are taken into account when your compensation is decided, which is why it is difficult to estimate without investigation. Factors include the misconduct itself and how serious it was, whether you have fully recovered since the event or if it will have a long term effect, and the extent of your suffering, including possible injuries.

If you were unlawfully detained the length of your detention is a significant factor in assessing the value of your claim. The longer you were detained the more valuable your claim. Guidance on the value of unlawful detention claims was given by the Court of Appeal in Thompson and Hsu v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (1997). Updating for inflation and other factors means that generally the first hour of unlawful detention has a value in the region of £750 and 24 hours unlawful detention has a value of approximately £4750. Other factors may increase the value of a claim from these starting points.


JUDICIAL REVIEW

Judicial review is a Court process available to challenge a decision made by a public body. The High Court assesses whether the decision was made lawfully. This could include challenging a decision made by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) or a Coroner’s verdict at an inquest.

In most cases a judicial review claim must be brought within 3 months from the date of the decision. Therefore you must act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as you want to challenge a decision.

The nature of judicial review is that it is used as a last resort. The court will only look at a judicial review claim if there were no other options available. Less serious incidents of police misconduct are also unlikely to be accepted by the court.

Given the gravity of judicial review there are limited cases where it could be a potential route. Our specialist solicitors will discuss the options with you to ensure we establish the best course of action for your specific circumstances. Legal Aid funding can be available for judicial review claims.

Non-Recent Abuse Solicitors

Non-Recent Abuse

Non-recent abuse is also sometimes referred to as ‘historic abuse’.

Following recent well documented cases non-recent abuse is becoming more prevalent through the media. Often this is when an adult suffered abuse when they were a child. The abuse could be physical, sexual or both and often occurs in ‘safe’ places such as in a family or friend’s house, youth offending institutes, children’s homes, hospitals etc.

For many years the subject of child abuse was taboo and only in recent years have people felt they were able to speak out about the abuse they suffered.

We have a dedicated team of experienced Solicitors advising on non-recent child abuse. Even though there are strict time limits you may be entitled to bring a claim. Your claim may lead to an award of compensation from the individual or organisations such as the Ministry of Justice or the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

We currently act on behalf of people who were detained in Medomsley Detention Centre between the 1960s and 1980s. There is an ongoing criminal investigation by Durham Constabulary and we act for more than 300 people. We can also help if you have been abused in another detention centre or children’s home.

If you suffered abuse as a child please get in touch with us as soon as you can.

Please contact our Non-Recent Abuse Team on 0191 565 3112 to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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Dental Negligence Solicitors

DENTAL NEGLIGENCE

Our Dental Negligence team represents victims of accidents and injuries suffered at the hands of a dental practitioner. Poor dental work can have a serious effect on your life both medically and cosmetically. Dentists don’t often make mistakes but when they do you are entitled to make a complaint and seek redress usually in the form of financial compensation. Any financial award could go towards reconstructive surgery, further medical treatment or to compensate for physical or emotional harm.

Our solicitors obtain substantial sums of compensation for dental negligence cases and injuries can include:

  • Delayed diagnosis of gum disease, oral cancer and other oral diseases
  • Untreated gum disease or tooth decay
  • Substandard treatment
  • Root canal treatment
  • Cosmetic procedures such as crowns
  • Unsatisfactory consent to treatment
  • Dental prosthetics
  • Tooth removal
  • Nerve damage

Seeking legal advice will enhance your claim as we can thoroughly prepare your case and be ready to put together any response necessary. It is often difficult to understand dental and medical terminology, which is why we are committed to speaking plain English and ensuring you fully understand.

If your case is successful, you might be awarded compensation in different forms:

An award for pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the negligence.

An award for loss of earnings could be made if you have not been able to receive an income as a result of the negligence. In serious cases, this could include loss of future earnings.

Other expenses might also be covered if deemed necessary for your recovery. This could include specific medical treatment and care costs.

Most people want to know the compensation they will be awarded, and as a result of this, many firms offer ambiguous suggestions. Each case is different. To find out more about the compensation you might be entitled to, it is best to speak to a qualified solicitor who can look at your specific circumstances.

Please contact our Dental Negligence Team on 0191 565 3112 to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

Court of Protection Solicitors

COURT OF PROTECTION

Some individuals may lack the capacity to make decisions about important aspects of their live as a result of a mental impairment. This can apply to people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions, acquired brain injuries, mental illnesses or other neurological or physical health problems. Other individuals, whilst cognitively able to make decisions, are so vulnerable to influence or pressure from other people that in practice they cannot exercise their capacity.

Ben Hoare Bell has particular expertise in representing those who lack capacity in Court of Protection proceedings and in advising and representing the carers and families of individuals in respect of whom Court of Protection proceedings or local authority safeguarding processes are in place.

  • What is meant by “capacity”?
  • What is meant by “best interests”?
  • Court of Protection personal welfare proceedings
  • Safeguarding vulnerable adults
  • Deprivation of Liberty

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WHAT IS MEANT BY “CAPACITY”?

The law relating to mental capacity is contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Individuals are presumed to have capacity unless there is proof that they do not. The fact that a person makes unwise decisions is not enough to prove that they lack capacity.

Capacity is “issue-specific” and therefore an individual may have capacity to make some decisions but not others. In order to establish that a person lacks capacity to make a decision it must be shown that the person has an impairment or disturbance of their mind, as a result off which he or she is unable to understand, retain or weigh up information which is relevant to the decision in question or that the person is unable to communicate that decision. Having capacity to make a decision therefore involves much more than being able to express a wish.

In cases where there is a dispute, assessments of capacity are often carried out by psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers with specialist training.


WHAT IS MEANT BY “BEST INTERESTS”?

The term “best interests” is not defined in the Mental Capacity Act but the Act sets out a process for determining what is in someone’s best interests. This involves taking into account a number of factors, including the current wishes of the person who lacks capacity, and the wishes and values that they had before they lost capacity. The views of family members, carers and professionals with relevant specialist knowledge are also taken into account.


COURT OF PROTECTION PERSONAL WELFARE PROCEEDINGS

The Court of Protection has jurisdiction to resolve disputes about, and make decisions on behalf of, those who lack the mental capacity to make those decisions themselves. Sometimes fundamental issues are at stake, for example where a person should live, what care or treatment they should receive and with whom they should have contact.

Where there is a dispute about a significant health or welfare issue in relation to an adult who is believed to lack capacity to make the decision him/herself, a local authority, an NHS Trust or any other interested person may apply to the Court of Protection asking the court to decide whether the person concerned does in fact lack capacity and, if they do, what decisions should be made in that person’s best interests.

Our Health and Social Care Department is often asked to advise and represent family members who have been made party to Court of Protection proceedings issued by local authorities or NHS Trusts. Immediate family members usually have a right to be involved as parties to Court of Protection proceedings.

We are regularly asked by the Official Solicitor to act as solicitors for individuals who lack capacity in Court of Protection proceedings.


SAFEGUARDING VULNERABLE ADULTS

Local authority social services departments use safeguarding adults procedures (set out in the Care Act 2014) where they believe that an individual who is vulnerable may be subject to exploitation, neglect (including self-neglect) or abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or financial). In these circumstances it is the duty of the local authority to carry out an investigation and, where necessary, to make a safeguarding plan. In certain circumstances safeguarding adult procedures may lead to a decision that proceedings should be started in the Court of Protection or referred to the High Court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction.

Safeguarding vulnerable adult procedures can be upsetting and difficult to understand for all those involved including the vulnerable adult him/herself, family members and anyone who is considered may be harming or neglecting the vulnerable adult.

Ben Hoare Bell has considerable experience in supporting vulnerable adults, as well as family members, through the safeguarding vulnerable adults procedures, advising clients of the implications of the process and supporting them at relevant meetings.

We can also assist in providing advice or representation where the Office of the Public Guardian is investigating alleged misuse of a Lasting Power of Attorney or a Deputyship.


DEPRIVATION OF LIBERTY

The concept of “deprivation of liberty” comes from the European Convention on Human Rights, imported into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 5 of the Convention prohibits the state from depriving an individual of his or her liberty without a due legal process which enables the individual to challenge the deprivation of liberty. As a result the Mental Capacity Act 2005 contains procedures and safeguards to be applied where individuals may be being deprived of their liberty, for example in a care home or hospital.

Some people are considered to have their liberty “restricted” but are not considered to be deprived of their liberty. Those people are not subject to the safeguards contained in the Mental Capacity Act. The distinction between a deprivation and a restriction is therefore crucial and has been the subject of many court decisions. As a result of the decision of the Supreme Court in the Cheshire West case most people who lack capacity to take decisions about their residence and care, who are living in residential care or supported living arrangements (and some people living in their own or their family’s home) meet the threshold for “deprivation of liberty”.

The Mental Capacity Act contains a procedure for local authorities or the NHS to give an “authorisation” for a deprivation of liberty of those placed in residential care or hospital, as well as a mechanism for the individual or someone on their behalf to challenge that authorisation. The deprivation of liberty of those living in supported living arrangements or in their own or their family’s home can only be authorised by the Court of Protection. This system is due to be reformed, probably from early 2017.


WILL I HAVE TO PAY FOR LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION?

Legal Aid is available for these types of work, usually subject to meeting financial criteria. Legal Aid is available to fund challenges to authorisations depriving the individual of their liberty in residential care or hospital irrespective of the individual’s financial circumstances.  If you think you may be eligible for legal aid we can take some financial details from you during an initial telephone call or meeting and generally we will be able to give you an indication as to whether you qualify for legal aid at that point. The financial test involves an assessment of your (and where relevant your family’s) income and capital. You can check whether you are eligible for legal aid by going to this page of the LAA’s website.

If you are not eligible for legal aid we can discuss with you the likely cost of you paying privately for the work we do for you. Depending on the nature of the work, it will often be possible for us to work on the basis of a fixed fee or on the basis that we will limit our costs to an agreed sum at each stage of your case. Our costs may vary depending on the level of experience of the person dealing with your case.

Child Abduction Solicitors

CHILD ABDUCTION

Child Abduction FAQs


The worst nightmare for any parent is the sudden abduction of their child. In most cases the child is taken by the other parent or a close relative.

Quick intervention is essential in order to achieve a good outcome and ensure the child is kept safe. Precautions can be taken when you foresee that your child might be taken from you without your permission. In all cases expert legal advice is vital.

Ben Hoare Bell has a dedicated Child Abduction team, led by specialist Family lawyer Cris McCurley.

Cris is a member of the Reunite specialist panel and the International Child Abduction & Contact unit (ICACU) panel for Hague Convention countries and has experience of Hague Convention and non-convention work. Solicitors are only accredited on the ICACU panel if they meet specific criteria and strict requirements for doing the work.

Prevention of abduction is obviously far better and easier than a situation where the child has already been taken. If you are concerned that your child is at risk of being abducted either in this country or abroad please contact us to discuss how we can help you.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.


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Divorce Solicitors

Divorce Solicitors in North East England

The breakup of a relationship and the often resulting divorce can cause great stress for the parties involved. This is heightened if there are children involved. Our experienced professionals will deal with your case in a sensitive manner and will advise you what steps are in your best interests. Our fee structure is transparent and we will also advise if you are eligible for legal aid.

We doubt that anybody actually enjoys the process of going through a divorce and using our services is unlikely to change this fact. However what our divorce solicitors in North East England can do is make sure that your divorce is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Attention to detail is, of course, very important when handling the financial negotiations and childcare debates that often take place at the end of a marriage. In addition to making sure that nothing is overlooked our divorce lawyers work hard to ensure that every client is able to enjoy a speedy resolution to their separation issues.

If you would like to resolve your situation with a minimum of fuss so that you can get on with the rest of your life, please call and speak to us today.

If you do not want to divorce but want to be separated from your partner this is also possible and we can assist with preparing a separation agreement to recognise this.

Working with your Divorce Lawyer in North East England

Whichever of our specialist matrimonial solicitors in North East England you deal with, you can rest assured that they will do whatever they can to make your divorce or separation as painless as possible. We will explain all the legal terminology to you in plain English as your case progresses. Members of our team have undergone advanced training and hold Law Society Panel accreditations and Resolution accreditations.

We have a Collaborative Family Law specialist in our team in the North East who can help you to resolve your differences in an amicable manner outside of a courtroom. If you think that you and your partner can agree financial and custodial terms without resorting to a legal battle, this is an option that is well worth considering.

To be entitled to a divorce you must have been married for more than 1 year and be able to show that the marriage has ‘irretrievably’ broken down. You can do this with one of five reasons. We will guide you through the divorce process and help you to file the divorce petition which starts the process. We will also be there to advise you if you encounter any problems. We can also act if you are a respondent to a divorce and follow the procedures on the other side. However we cannot act for both you and your partner.

We also have a specialist team of qualified solicitors who are experienced in dealing with property and financial disputes following relationship breakdown.

Professional support from leading divorce solicitors in North East England

It goes without saying that going through a divorce can be incredibly stressful for all parties, particularly if there are children and valuable assets involved. At Ben Hoare Bell LLP we understand that it can be a difficult and emotional time, which is why we focus on guiding our clients through the divorce process in a way that is professional and supportive. Our team of separation lawyers in North East England will help you understand the nuances of the law and provide you with a detailed overview of your options. If there are children involved, we can also advise you of your rights and responsibilities as a parent to achieve a positive outcome for your family.

With more than three decades of experience in the industry, you can rely on Ben Hoare Bell LLP to provide you with the support and expert insight you need during your divorce.

How much does a Divorce Lawyer cost in the North East?

Unless you are a victim of domestic abuse it is unlikely that you will qualify for legal aid when going through a divorce in the United Kingdom. With this in mind it is important to find out how much a divorce or separation lawyer in North East England will cost before you agree to hire one. At Ben Hoare Bell LLP we explain our fees in clear and simple terms so you know in advance exactly how much you will have to pay for the services we provide.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.

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Family Law Award 2018 Winner

Ben Hoare Bell - Family Law Winner Logo

Power of Attorney Solicitors

Powers of Attorney

LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY (LPA)

It can be worrying not knowing what will happen in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint someone to make these decisions for you, giving you the security of knowing that if a time ever comes when you are unable to make important decisions, someone you trust can decide what is best for you.

There are two types of LPA:

  1. A ‘Property and Affairs’ LPA allows the person you appoint as your attorney to manage your financial affairs.
  2. A ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA lets decisions be taken about important issues affecting your welfare, for example your medical treatment or where you will live.

We can also assist if there are disputes about the meaning or validity of a lasting power or if the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is investigating the conduct of an attorney.

Where a person does not have capacity a Deputyship can be made.

Our Costs

Our costs in preparing and registering a single LPA are £300 plus VAT. The cost of preparing and registering both a Health and Welfare and a Property and Affairs LPA is £500 plus VAT.

The Court fee of £110 may also be payable depending upon your circumstances.


ENDURING POWERS OF ATTORNEY (EPA)

Although new EPAs cannot now be created, we are still able to register EPAs or deal with disputes arising in relation to them.

Our Costs

Our costs in registering an EPA are £200 plus VAT.


ADVANCED DECISIONS

An Advanced Decision (also known as an ‘advance directive’) allows a person to make choices about their future health care. It can be used to consent to or refuse consent to specified treatments in the event that the person is not able to make the decision themselves at the time of the treatment specified.

Our Costs

Our costs in preparing an Advanced Decision are £300 plus VAT.


DEPUTYSHIPS

What is a ‘Deputyship’ and why do I need one?

Where a person does not have capacity in relation to their property and financial affairs or their health and welfare then they are not able to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to allow another person to manage their financial affairs. This lack of capacity could arise for a number of reasons, for example because of dementia, as a result of an accident causing a brain injury or a person might never have had capacity as a result of a disability they were born with.

Often in such cases there is a need for someone else to manage a person’s affairs. This is done by that person making an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as the incapacitated person’s deputy. We can assist in making that application.

Usually a family member or friend will act as a Deputy. However, where a person has received a large compensation award such as from a Clinical Negligence, Personal Injuries or Criminal Injuries Compensation Claim, then appointing a professional deputy to act is often the best way to ensure that the incapacitated party receives the best care from their compensation. We can act as a professional deputy in such situations and can also do so in other cases where there is no one else suitable to act available.

We can also assist deputies who have already been appointed by providing advice or help with discharging their duties.

Our Costs

In uncontested matters, we charge the Court of Protection set fixed fee of £850 plus VAT for making the application to appoint a Deputy. We also offer fixed fees for other Court of Protection matters.

Court fees may also apply depending on the financial position of the proposed Deputy/the person lacking capacity.

Please contact Andrea Sellers to discuss your requirements on a no obligation basis.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Human Rights and Civil Liberties

The 1998 Human Rights Act has applied the European Convention on Human Rights to English Law. The rights concern, for example, the right to respect for private and family life, freedom of expression, liberty and security. They may apply to all areas of legal relationships and to individual’s dealings with the court and any public body.

Incorporation of the convention rights should enhance the individual’s ability to withstand and challenge the decisions of public bodies which affect him or her.

Human Rights considerations may arise within family, mental health, criminal and civil cases, but their argument and presentation demand particular skills and experience. You will need advice about whether you have a sustainable human rights or civil liberties argument and about the forum in which any argument should be put.

You are very welcome to contact us if you believe that any decision taken by a local or national authority which affects you may be subject to challenge. We have experience and knowledge of judicial review cases. We ask you to bear in mind that there are strict time limits for challenging decisions made and that, in this area of law above all, delay can be fatal.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

Criminal Defence Solicitors

Providing Criminal Law Services across North East England

Criminal Law FAQs

Our Specialist Criminal Solicitors offer a 24 hour 7 day per week service including out of office hours advice, police station attendance and court representation.

Contact information:

  • In office hours: 0191 568 1111 (Sunderland), 0191 477 6333 (Gateshead), 0191 275 2626 (Newcastle)
  • Out of office hours: 07743 806988

From our offices in Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead our criminal defence solicitors in North East England provide a comprehensive range of services to clients across this part of the United Kingdom. We handle all types of criminal cases and, as mentioned above, provide a 24-hour service to clients who are taken into custody and need to consult a solicitor before they are questioned by the police.

Whether you have been accused of a crime of which you are innocent or you are caught up in a criminal investigation due to a mistake that you have made, we can provide you with a criminal defence lawyer in North East England who is capable of protecting your interests and helping you to achieve a satisfactory outcome should your case go to court. In some cases it may be possible to absolve yourself without the need to go through the courts.

Most people think and hope it will never happen to them. Being accused of or charged with a criminal offence is a serious matter. It is also likely to be an unfamiliar and stressful situation. If it goes wrong it can have far reaching consequences for you and your family and have a devastating effect on your reputation and livelihood. That is why you need to be sure that you are advised and represented by specialists from start to finish.

Click here to read more about Road Traffic Offences

Expert Advice from Experienced Criminal Law Solicitors in North East England

It is important to instruct an experienced defence lawyer in North East England if you are facing charges that could result in a fine or a custodial sentence. Whichever of our lawyers handles your case, he or she will guide you through the whole legal process and provide you with expert advice that ensures the best possible outcome. Without the assitance of a UK criminal law specialist you might find it difficult to achieve a satisfactory outcome and could receive a stiffer sentence than would otherwise be the case.

Ben Hoare Bell has over 30 years of specialist experience in criminal defence law and we recognise the importance of the case to you. We pride ourselves in providing an expert service with all the personal care and attention you are entitled to and would expect from a professional and specialist team of solicitors. We know how daunting the experience can be for you and realise how easily it may feel that the system is taking over. We take care to ensure that throughout our advice and representation of you we make sure you understand what is happening, demystifying what can seem like a minefield of jargon, rules and procedures and allowing you to make the best and most informed decisions possible about your case.

We have a team of criminal defence solicitors and other legally qualified and non-legally qualified staff:

  • All the lawyers in our criminal law department specialise and practice solely in criminal law and have done so for many years.
  • All our solicitors and other legally qualified staff have fulfilled the rigorous requirements as specialist police station accredited representatives.
  • Most of our solicitors are qualified accredited duty solicitors.

We have offices across North East England and offer a 24 hour service for police station attendances and also cover courts on a Saturday and bank holidays.

We know that you will naturally be concerned about what it may cost you to have a solicitor represent you so we always give you accurate information about the funding options at the very earliest stage of the case and update you as the case progresses. Legal Aid will cover our costs in many cases both at the police station and court and we will always ensure that any appropriate application is made in your case. Where appropriate we will provide you with an initial appointment at our office free of charge when we will undertake an initial assessment of your case and assess your eligibility for Legal Aid or other funding.

  • If you are attending the police station – whether under arrest or on a voluntary basis – accused of a criminal offence Legal Aid is almost always available.
  • For the vast majority of cases in the Magistrates Court Legal Aid is also available although it is subject to a means and interests of justice test.
  • For Crown Court cases Legal Aid is almost always available but may be subject to you making a financial contribution depending upon your circumstances.
  • If your case is not eligible for Legal Aid we will discuss other possibilities with you such as legal insurance or legal fees payable through union membership.
  • If your case is not eligible for Legal Aid or other funding we will provide you with an estimate of our costs at the outset and update you regularly as the case progresses.
  • For the more straightforward cases, if Legal Aid is not available, we will very often be able to offer you a fixed fee for our services so you know exactly where you are from the start. In appropriate cases that fee can be as low as £150 plus VAT.
  • For benefit fraud investigations (and investigations by other agencies) again Legal Aid is usually available although it will be subject to a means test. If necessary we will be happy to discuss our reasonable private fees with you.

Honest and Upfront Criminal Defence Solicitors in North East England

Our criminal defence solicitors in North East England understand the ins and outs of all fields of criminal law, ensuring they achieve the best possible result for you. We are open and honest from the start and won’t fill you with unrealistic expectations.

Consulting our Criminal Solicitors in North East England

Don’t leave it too late – remember the early stages of an investigation are often crucial so ring us or call in as soon as the problem arises.

If you think you need the assistance of our criminal law services please contact us at any of our offices across the North East or in an emergency call our out of office hours service on 07743 806988. The solicitor who is appointed to handle your case will be able to answer any questions you may have and to help you apply for legal aid if required. Please note it is important that you provide our defence lawyer in North East England with all the relevant details of your case, so that they can represent you to the best of their abilities.

Application to be removed from the Sex Offenders Register

In July 2018 the Supreme Court ruled that preventing individuals subjected to Notification Requirements for life from being removed from the Sex Offenders Register is a breach of their human rights.

This has caused a lot of controversy in the media, with the NSPCC being particularly vocal about the negative impact they believe this could have on rehabilitation.

However, this ruling comes from the most powerful court in this country and acknowledges that for many people convicted of a relevant offence, much can be done to assist and rehabilitate such individuals. In these instances, it seems only fair that if an individual can prove that they have reintegrated into society and addressed any underlying issues linked to offending, they could apply to remove themselves from the Register and have their progress recognised.

Anyone who has been on the Register for 15 years (or 8 for a juvenile) can apply to the police to have themselves removed from the Register. If this application is refused, they can appeal to a Magistrates Court. The police or court will consider a number of factors such as:

  1. The views of a ‘responsible body’ such as the Probation Service or Local Authorty
  2. The seriousness of the initial offence, and the age of the individual at the time of the offence
  3. The time since the offence was committed
  4. Sometimes, the views of the complainant involved in the initial offence
  5. Any evidence by the individual which shows that they deserve to be removed from the Register

This list is not exhaustive and there is a complex test to be applied. If you would like to receive more information on making an application to be removed from the Register, please contact us for advice.

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Personal Injury Solicitors

Personal Injury

If you have suffered an accident or injury that was caused by someone or something else you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Our Personal Injury team have a wealth of experience and expertise in compensation claims from cases worth £500 to cases worth over £3,000,000.

Personal Injury FAQs

We can help with:

  • Accidents at work
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Medical negligence
  • Accidents on buses
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Catastrophic injuries
  • Trips and slips
  • Criminal injuries
  • Needlestick injuries
  • Holiday Accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Other accidents

Our highly qualified and experience Personal Injury team are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Law Society Personal Injury Panel.

Our expert personal injury solicitors conduct personal injury cases on a no win on fee basis.

Please contact our Personal Injury Team to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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MAKING A CLAIM

In most cases of personal injury there is a strict time limit for when you can make a claim. Therefore it is important that you act quickly when you sustain an injury as a result of someone, or something else.

We are honest and upfront about the merits of your case and the likelihood of being awarded compensation. Before we submit a claim we will discuss the benefits, risks and cost implications together so that we can be sure that we are doing the right thing for you.

The end goal for many is to receive compensation. If your case is successful you might be awarded compensation in different forms:

  1. An award for pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the injury or accident.
  2. An award for loss of earnings could be made if you have not been able to receive an income as a result of the injury. In serious cases this could include loss of future earnings.
  3. Other expenses might also be covered if deemed necessary for your recovery. This could include specific medical treatment and care costs.

Most people want to know the compensation they will be awarded and as a result of this many personal injury firms offer ambiguous suggestions. Each case is different, as is every injury. To find out more about the compensation you might be entitled to it is best to speak to a qualified solicitor who can look at your specific circumstances.

Different factors are taken into account when your compensation is decided, which is why it is difficult to estimate at the start. Factors include the injury itself and how serious it was, whether you have fully recovered since the injury or if it will have a long term effect e.g. limiting your future ability to work. All of these factors will have to be proven with strong evidence, including medical reports which we can obtain on your behalf.

Mental Health Solicitors

Mental Health

We provide an extensive range of advice and assistance on all matters relating to mental health law.

Our team of Mental Health lawyers are members of the Law Society Mental Health Panel. We cover the whole of the North East region and can visit clients in hospital at short notice.

Please contact our Mental Health team to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices. We can also arrange to visit hospitals, care homes and prisons.

We offer the following services:

  • Representation at Mental Health Tribunals
  • Representation at Hospital Managers Meetings
  • Advising on Supervised Community Treatment
  • Rights of Nearest Relatives and Displacement Proceedings
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • Court of Protection
  • Entitlement to Aftercare Services under Section 117 of the Mental Health Act

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REPRESENTATION AT MENTAL HEALTH TRIBUNALS

The Tribunal is an independent judicial body which reviews the cases of patients detained under the Mental Health Act. The Tribunal is a significant safeguard for detained patients. The Tribunal has to make a balanced judgment on a number of issues such as the patient’s diagnosis and the need for medical treatment; the freedom of the individual; the protection of the public and the best interests of the patient. It has the power to order discharge or make recommendations that a patient be granted leave from the hospital or be transferred into another hospital or into Guardianship with a view to facilitating discharge on a future date. The Tribunal may also recommend that a patient’s Responsible Clinician (usually their consultant psychiatrist) considers whether to make a Community Treatment Order.

Patients are eligible to appeal to the Tribunal at set intervals depending on their detention status. The hospital managers are under a duty to refer patients to the Tribunal at set intervals in the event the patient does not exercise their own right to appeal. Tribunal hearings are normally held in private and take place in the hospital where the patient is or used to be detained or a convenient community unit. Patients are entitled to free legal representation at Tribunals under Legal Aid.


REPRESENTATION AT HOSPITAL MANAGERS’ MEETINGS

Hospital Managers have the power to discharge patients from detention or supervised community treatment. This power is delegated to people appointed specifically for this purpose who are not officers or employees of the hospital concerned and have received suitable training. A meeting will normally be arranged at the request of a patient and must take place when a responsible clinician is renewing detention under the Mental Health Act.


ADVISING ON SUPERVISED COMMUNITY TREATMENT AND AFTERCARE

This has been available since November 2008. Only patients who are detained under Section 3 or Section 37 can be considered for a Community Treatment Order (CTO). A Community Treatment Order works by suspending a Section 3 or Section 37. It allows a doctor to discharge a patient into the community, subject to certain conditions that the doctor imposes. He cannot make the decision to place a patient on a CTO himself – he will need to have the agreement of an Approved Mental Health Professional (probably a social worker).

It is not possible to appeal against the conditions. However, the patient has the right to appeal against the CTO itself to the Mental Health Tribunal and the Hospital Managers. The Tribunal cannot amend the conditions, but has the power to discharge the CTO.

The other important issue about the Community Treatment Order is that if the patient breaks any of the conditions, the consultant can consider whether or not to recall the patient to hospital. If recalled to hospital, the patient can be detained in hospital for up to 72 hours. The patient can be recalled to hospital even if s/he is complying with all the conditions if the consultant considers that the patient needs treatment in hospital. If, during that period, the consultant feels that the patient needs to stay in hospital for longer than that, then s/he can revoke the Community Treatment Order, and the Section 3 takes automatic effect. If this occurs the patient is automatically referred to the Tribunal.


RIGHTS OF NEAREST RELATIVES AND DISPLACEMENT PROCEEDINGS

We are experienced in acting for Nearest Relatives as well as patients. The Mental Health Act defines the nearest relative and it is important to note that the nearest relative may not be the same person as the patient’s next of kin. Nearest relative plays an important role – they should be consulted when a patient is detained and can take steps to order the patient’s discharge although it is possible for the patient’s doctor to bar the discharge. In certain circumstances a nearest relative is eligible to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal.

We can also advise on displacement proceedings in the County Court which involve removing someone as the patient’s nearest relative and appointing someone else.


ENTITLEMENT TO AFTERCARE SERVICES

Most patients discharged from acute care hospitals have statutory rights to a thorough process of discharge planning so that they are not discharged from hospital until it is clear that the needs they will have in the community are going to be met.

Many patients detained in psychiatric hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983 will become entitled to free aftercare services to meet the needs which arise from their mental health problems. The local authority and the local clinical commissioning group are jointly responsible for providing the necessary aftercare services.


WILL I HAVE TO PAY FOR LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION?

We have a Legal Aid Agency Mental Health contract which means we are able to provide free representation at Mental Health Tribunals. Legal Aid may also be available for some of the other services we offer subject to assessment.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Medical Negligence

Medical Negligence FAQs


CN Law Society

Our medical negligence department represents victims of a medical accident or medical error otherwise known as clinical negligence. This occurs when you have sustained an injury or illness as a result of a medical error or mistake, which includes treatment in a hospital, by doctors, nurses and any other medical professionals.

Our solicitors have obtained substantial sums of compensation in a wide variety of cases, including:

  • Cerebral palsy as a result of birth injury
  • Other birth injuries
  • Orthopaedic delays and surgery
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment delays
  • Neurosurgery
  • General surgery
  • Ear Nose and Throat (ENT)
  • GP medical negligence
  • Gynaecology
  • Paediatric care
  • Nursing care
  • Plastic surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
  • Misprescription
  • Pharmacy Claims
  • Opthalmic/Opticians
  • Medical device failure claims including hip implants
  • Dental care

We can assist with complaints in addition to advising on and pursuing medical negligence claims through the court system. We also represent bereaved families at Inquests into deaths occurring in a medical setting that may be caused by medical negligence.

Heading up our team are Andrew Kelly and Peter Henry who both have a wealth of experience and are both accredited by the Law Society to provide this specialised service and are recommended in UK Legal Services directories for medical negligence representation. They pride themselves on delivering a professional, supportive and friendly service.

We receive much of our work from personal recommendations due to our established reputation in the field of medical negligence claims.

We have access to all funding arrangements including Legal Aid and No Win No Fee amongst others.

Please contact our Medical Negligence team on 0191 516 3112 to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We cover all of the North East region and can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.

In addition we can arrange home or hospital visits in Tyne and Wear and throughout the region. We cover Northumberland in addition to Teesside including Middlesbrough, Stockton on Tees, Billingham and Hartlepool. County Durham including Darlington, Durham and Bishop Auckland and also North Yorkshire including Northallerton, Stokesley, Thirsk and Richmond.

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MAKING A COMPLAINT

We understand that some people do not strive for compensation but are in fact driven by the need to tell their side of the story. In making a complain you ensure that your situation is formally recognised and try to prevent the same thing happening to someone else in the future.

Making a complaint is the more suitable route if you are seeking an apology or acknowledgement of the negligence. If you want to pursue a compensatory award you would need to commence legal proceedings and make a claim.

To make an effective complaint you should seek legal advice. As specialists we can compile a professional and thorough report that will ensure your complaint is worthwhile. We will also be available to advise you on any further steps you wish to take when we receive a response.


MAKING A CLAIM

When making a claim it is important to understand that the only possible result is compensation. The court cannot ask for an apology, it cannot order a change in procedure and it cannot authorise disciplinary proceedings. If these are your objectives making a complaint might be more suitable for you.

If your case is successful you might be awarded compensation in different forms:

  1. An award for pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the negligence.
  2. An award for loss of earnings could be made if you have not been able to receive an income as a result of the negligence. In serious cases this could include loss of future earnings.
  3. Other expenses might also be covered if deemed necessary for your recovery. This could include specific medical treatment, property adaptation costs and care costs.

Most people want to know the compensation they will be awarded and as a result of this many firms offer ambiguous suggestions. Each case is different. To find out more about the compensation you might be entitled to, it is best to speak to a qualified solicitor who can look at your specific circumstances.

Housing Solicitors

Expert Housing Solicitors in North East England

Our team of housing law specialists can help local tenants and landlords with a wide variety of legal issues including the following:

  • Eviction proceedings, claims and warrants
  • Tenancy disputes concerning the terms and conditions of rental agreements
  • Obtaining injunctions to prevent harassment in the home
  • Advice and appeals for those affected by homelessness
  • Claims relating to landlords’ duties to repair rental properties
  • Mortgage repossessions and other residential possession proceedings
  • Local authority housing exclusions
  • Housing Benefit disputes and appeals
  • Rehousing and local housing allocations
  • Representing clients served with anti-social behaviour injunctions

The rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in the United Kingdom are governed by a complex framework, with which our housing lawyers in North East England are familiar. Whatever issues you may be facing, please feel free to call and ask our team for advice and assistance at any time.

We act for both Tenants and Landlords across the North East of England at all levels providing practical advice and assistance. Legal Aid is still available for many housing matters.

For a free initial consultation over the phone please call 0191 275 2626 to speak to a housing solicitor in North East England.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland offices.

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Service for Landlords

It can be hard work being a landlord. The law, rights and responsibilities are complicated and frequently changing. Our team of specialist Housing solicitors are here for you. We can advise you on the legal requirements when a tenancy first begins, including the law about tenancy deposits, through to the requirements when you want to end a tenancy. If you need expert advice on how to obtain possession of your property then we can help. Whether it’s rent arrears, problem tenants or any other reason we can advise you on your rights of possession and how to get it. The procedure is often complicated and mistakes can be costly in both time and money.

We can advise you on how to take the quickest course of action and can represent you in court proceedings when necessary. If you are facing a claim against you by a tenant then we can also assist. Timely advice at the very beginning of a legal claim can reap huge savings later down the line. So if your tenant says you’ve unlawfully evicted them or if they say there’s disrepair, we’re here to give expert guidance and represent your interests. We also offer competitive fixed fees where possible – ask about our fixed fee packages for service of notices, possession claims and applications for warrants.


Services for Tenants

If you are looking for a housing lawyer in North East England to provide you with accurate advice and guidance regarding your legal rights as a tenant, and to assist you in the event that you need to go to court to protect your rights, our team will be delighted to be of service. In addition to providing local tenants with first-class legal representation at affordable rates we also have a Legal Aid contract which means we can help tenants who are unable to pay their own legal costs.

Among the legal issues covered by legal aid that our housing solicitors can help with include:.

  • Possession Proceedings
  • Eviction
  • Notice Seeking Possession
  • Unlawful Eviction
  • Homelessness
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions
  • Injunctions connected to harassment in the home
  • Disrepair cases where there is a serious risk to health

We also offer competitive fixed fees, and in some matters conditional fee arrangements for those clients who do not qualify for Legal Aid or for those with housing problems which are no longer covered by Legal Aid.

Why Choose our Housing Lawyers in North East England?

At Ben Hoare Bell LLP we have a team of legal experts who have experience of achieving good outcomes for our clients. We prioritise honest which is why we explain the potential costs involved with your case as well as the realistic outcomes from the beginning.

We understand that fighting a case can be a stressful experience, which is why we have your back from start to finish.

Childcare Solicitors

CHILDCARE

Our childcare solicitors are members of the Law Society Children Panel, which denotes expertise in this area. We can help with all sorts of legal issues concerning childcare including:

  • Residence, contact and parental responsibility disputes
  • Child Protection and social services issues including attendance at Child Protection Conferences
  • Care Proceedings
  • Adoption

We are able to advise and assist in situations where social services have become involved either because families have sought their assistance or because of social services concerns.

We advise and assist parents at the start of child protection procedures, including attendance at Child Protection Conferences and related advice. We can also represent clients if Care Proceedings are commenced by the Local Authority.

We can offer appointments at our Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sunderland offices.


LOCAL AUTHORITY ISSUES

One of the most distressing things that can happen is that social services become involved with your child or a child for which you have responsibility. We appreciate that dealing with the local authority and social services is a daunting prospect and is often very difficult to do without legal advice. We can be there throughout the whole process, advise you on the procedure and represent you at court hearings and meetings with the local authority. We are there to be your support and act in the best interests of the child.

Unfortunately if the local authority does not think you are giving the child the right care they may apply to the court for a care order. If a care order is granted the local authority has control over your parental responsibility for the child and can limit what you can and cannot do. In many cases this is not what is best for the child and we can act for you if you wish to oppose the application.

The court could also make a supervision order or a child arrangements order, detailing who the child should live with and have contact with. If you are concerned that any of these orders are being made please contact us as soon as you can.

We are also experienced in working with guardians and other members of the child’s family such as grandparents and aunts and uncles.


ADOPTION

We are always pleased to hear when a child has found a new and loving home. If you want to adopt a child we can help you to ensure there is a smooth process. We can also advise you on any difficulties that may arise, including representation at court hearings.

We can also advise you if you are trying to prevent someone else from adopting a child, including representation at court if necessary.

Whatever your circumstances, we are committed to working in the best interests of the child and will try to ease any worries you have an ensure you are fully aware of the necessary procedures.

Please contact our specialist childcare solicitors today to discuss your case in more detail.

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Family Law Award 2018 Winner

Ben Hoare Bell - Family Law Winner Logo

International Family Solicitors

INTERNATIONAL FAMILY

See our Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) FAQs

See our Child Abduction FAQs

View this page in Arabic: International Family Law (Arabic)


The International Family Law team at Ben Hoare Bell is the only one of its kind in the North East, dealing with emergency situations such as:

Forced marriages are those conducted without the consent of one or both parties, with pressure a factor – unlike arranged marriages, which have the consent of both parties. Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence. Victims often experience physical violence, rape, abduction, false imprisonment and enslavement, sexual abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and at a times, murder. Sometimes families may try to persuade the reluctant party with threat or even violence to protect the family honour.

If this is happening to you or someone you know make sure you get the right support.

Leading the team is Cris McCurley. Cris has over 25 years’ experience of dealing with these issues. She is a member of the Government’s specialist Child Abduction and Contact Panel, as well as being a member of the Reunite International Panel for Child Abduction Lawyers. Cris is also a member of the Law Society Children Panel.

Cris is a founding member of the National Child Abduction Lawyers Association, and is a trainer and examiner in forced marriage and honour based violence for Reunite, the Solicitors Family Law Association.

Cris is a member of the Federation of International Women Lawyers, as well as being National Lead for the Resolution Domestic Abuse Committee for forced marriage and violence in BME communities. She was awarded the Karma Nirvana Heroine award by the survivors group in 2009 and most recently was awarded the national Law Society Excellence Award of ‘Solicitor of the Year’ in 2014.

Cris and her experienced team deal with all family cases (including cases involving BME families and children and social services) where an international or cultural issue is a feature.

Any case with an international element is likely to be complex, so it is essential to find an expert to help you through it.

We have many links with refuge centres around the North East and we will seek to ensure you are put out of any immediate danger and put you in contact with one of these places. Together we can offer the emotional and legal support you require.

Please contact our International Family team on 0191 275 2626 to discuss your case in more detail on a no obligation basis.

We offer appointments at our Newcastle and Middlesbrough offices. We can also arrange visits to local refuge centres.

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