Why The Law On Bereavement Compensation Needed to Change

Ed Myers has been helping clients for over 30 years who have been injured through no fault of their ow. This has included cases where a client has died. It has been argued by claimant lawyers for many years that couples who were not married, when their partner died, should not face the added trauma of being told the loss of their relationship is compensated differently to a married couple.

Finally we now have something to celebrate, as Ed reports in more detail on the recent case which we mentioned in social media last week.


Congratulations and thanks to Jakki Smith from Chorley in Lancashire who has successfully changed a law which allowed only the survivor of a married couple to claim a bereavement allowance after their partner died.

Despite recommendations from committed law firms, such as Barratts, and the Independent Law Commission, no Government has been prepared to change a law which reflected society’s values in 1917 rather than 2017.  When Jakki claimed a bereavement allowance of £12,980.00 this was refused by the High Court and she therefore took her case to the Court of Appeal.  Claiming that the English law was in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, she was able to persuade the court that the previous law was wrong and that it discriminated against unmarried couples.  The court accepted her argument and this has now opened the way for other unmarried partners to claim such damages when their partner dies.

The result is a testimony to Jakki’s willingness to take on, and defeat, a clearly unfair law. All that is now needed is for the Government to introduce new legislation so this decision can be implemented  as soon as possible. We hope the wait will not be too long.

Interview with a skydiver!

Debra Morris, specialist brain injury solicitor at Barratts and Chair of Headway Derby, has spent the last few weeks recovering after she went skydiving on 26th October. Debra gave us this interview:

Where did the idea to skydive come from?

  • My daughter, Katie, had it on her bucket list. I foolishly said I would join Katie and skydive if it was for a really good cause. I never really thought it would ever happen!

Who did the skydive?

  • Alison Wright is a case manager who works with patients who have suffered a brain injury. Alison was intending to skydive for her 50th birthday; she told one of my clients whom she helps with care and support, they told me and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why did you decide to skydive?

  • Alison Wright had already agreed to skydive to raise funds for Headway, the national brain injury charity. My work involves helping injured clients with brain injury to secure compensation to help improve their lives. However, I also see many people who cannot claim compensation and rely on the services of brain injury charities. This was the reason I became Chair of Headway Derby. The chance to raise a lot of money for Headway Derby was too good to miss.

What was it like to skydive?

  • I was very nervous on the day. We had decided to skydive in September when the weather would be better but we were cancelled 3 times before we got the go ahead. By then I was even more scared but we hardly had time to worry as we got the call on the same day that the plane could take off. I was relieved not to have another sleepless night!
  • I have posted my video to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lhcg5l_z_Y
  • Katie and Alison really enjoyed themselves but my experience was not the same! Hanging out a plane thousands of feet above the ground has to be the scariest thing I have ever faced.
  • Whilst I did survive it in one piece (with no aches or pains afterwards) I absolutely hated every moment.  I knew it would be scary but didn’t realise how bad until the moment I stepped out of the airplane into a void below – going face down at 120 m.p.h.  We were 13,000 feet up and as it was a cloudy day we couldn’t see anything until the parachute opened (fortunately!).

How will Headway Derby Benefit?

  • We are almost at our £3,000 target and there is a possibility we might even raise more money. The funds will be used to set up mobile support and advice hubs around Derbyshire to broaden our area of support to those with a head injury.

What’s your next adventure?

  • My feet are staying firmly on the ground. I am working hard with staff at Headway Derby and we continually look for ways to improve the service.
  •  We have been on  Headway’s list of solicitors for Nottingham for many years. This involves independent evidence that the solicitor’s firm has experience acting for clients with brain injury. Since the skydive I have been told that we have also now been accepted for the Derby area. As I head up Barratt’s Derby office, this will keep me busy.

Any Last Words?

I would encourage anyone thinking about an activity to give a thought to the many charities around the UK who support those most in need. Whilst my skydiving days are definitely numbered, I do not regret my decision. I have been passionate about helping clients with head injury since I began my legal career, which makes it all the more satisfying to raise money for Headway Derby.

Why Choose Barratts Solicitors?

We recently announced our top ranking in Legal 500, an independent legal guide, which described us as “one of the best” law firms in the country. Less than a month later Chambers Legal Guide has been published. This places both our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams at the top for our litigation work. Our 5 partners are all “notable practitioners”, an accolade that is limited to only a few solicitors in the UK.

What Chambers Say About Our Personal Injury Department In 2017:

Why Is A Review By Chambers Important?

Chambers is a legal guide which asks clients, barristers, solicitors in other firms, medical experts and other professionals to provide a confidential analysis of the best law firms around the world. Only a small percentage of law firms are named each year. The ranking is based on the feedback from these referees; this means it is the most reliable source to find the best solicitors in the UK.

Barratts have consistently been named as one of the best Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Solicitor firms since appearing in Chambers. The fact that  our 5 partners are also ranked as “notable” means that within the best firms all of our partners are at the top of their profession. We are extremely proud to have retained our number 1 ranking; clients can instruct us knowing that our reputation is built on independent reviews by those who truly know how we work.

Barratts are “one of the best in the country”

Excellence shown on a compass

The Legal 500 is an independent guide which ranks the best legal firms in the UK. Barratts Solicitors are proud that the firm is not only ranked by Legal 500 but is consistently placed in the top 1st tier every year. To achieve this accolade every year is testament to the firm’s commitment to have experienced lawyers handling compensation claims.

The Legal 500 entry gives more information about our lawyers and some examples of cases that we have been involved in for 2016/17:

Fantastic niche firm’ Barratts Solicitors is ‘one of the best in the country’, advising solely on personal injury and clinical negligence cases of maximum severity, such as cerebral palsy and birth injury, spinal and brain injury, and delayed diagnosis and treatment. The clinical negligence department, led by Alison Brooks, is currently investigating quantum of a wrongful birth claim for a child born with severe microcephaly and suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other health complications. In Peppard v Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the team claimed damages for paraplegia resulting from delayed diagnosis and treatment of cord compression and venous thrombophlebitis. Emma Zukowska represented a patient of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in a trial contested on liability arising from delayed diagnosis of appendicitis followed by peritonitis. The ‘intelligent, tactically astute and hardworking’ Julie Hardy, praised as a ‘model solicitor’, settled claims for delayed diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, glaucoma and ectopic pregnancy. Court of Protection specialist Julie Greenwood is claiming delay in delivery and resuscitation resulting in dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Personal injury practice head Ed Myers handled litigation proceedings arising from a fatal road traffic accident of a British citizen in France and represented two healthcare workers claiming assault in the workplace against their employer. Other work on the personal injury side included serious road traffic accidents and asbestosis claims. David Tomlinson is also recommended, as is associate Debra Morris, who heads the Derby office. Malcolm Goff has retired.

All our lawyers who were working at Barratts in 2016-17 are personally named.  We think this is unique to our firm. We know that our clients need advice they can trust from lawyers who know what they are talking about. The 8 lawyers share nearly 200 years expertise between them.

Our commitment to helping injured clients was praised by other solicitors, medical experts, barristers, professionals working with those affected by spinal or brain injury, and, last but not least, our clients.

Ed Myers was also named as a leading individual. We could not be more proud of our latest entry in Legal 500.

To find out more about Legal 500, you can also go to their website at http://www.legal500.com.

World Cerebral Palsy Day

On 6th October, we will be celebrating the achievements of everyone living with Cerebral Palsy. Our clinical negligence team have been privileged to work with Cerebral Palsy children for the last 3o years. We  are delighted that a special day has been set aside to recognise this wonderful group in our communities.

World CP Day is a not for profit global movement. It has members across 60 countries and has 6 main aims:

  1. Public Awareness
  2. Civil Rights
  3. Medical/Therapeutic
  4. Quality of Life
  5. Education
  6. Making Our Contribution.
We make it possible

Changing the impossible to possible.

Public Awareness

World CP Day encourages everyone to raise awareness of CP and dispel myths about the condition. Many still feel uncomfortable talking to a person with CP. Some cultures feel shame and others might over protect a child with CP. Mothers around the world have used the movement to promote positive stories and reduce the stigma faced by some children with CP.

Civil Rights

We all know that the treatment of disabled children can vary around the world. In some countries the Government oppose any rights for children with CP.

There is a great video on the World CP Day website by Michelle Middleton in Liverpool. Please view this to learn the “Do’s and Dont’s of Disability”:



The cause of CP is still unknown in many cases. Our own experience of clinical negligence cases is that few are related to damage at the time of birth. The more we can learn about this condition the better the chance of finding effective treatment to prevent CP.

In some countries better access to health care would avoid CP. Knowing the diagnosis sooner also gives better access to therapy. Barratts’ solicitors know that clients are often not told their child has CP until many years after the birth.

Alison Brooks, in our clinical negligence department, has also seen 1st hand how children with CP can benefit from Conductive Education (CE), especially if introduced at a young age. Alison is a trustee of School for Parents which offers CE to pre school children.

Quality of Life

Accessing everyday opportunities and being part of a community can help us all to enjoy life. It is vital that anyone with CP has the same access. Equally important is access to basic needs.

We know of children in Africa who are left on the floor all day because there is no equipment. Let’s spread the message and help improve the lives of people with CP.


Access to education gives the best chance to lead a fulfilling life. Even in the UK, access to the right support in schools is a struggle. We often have to fight for clients to get additional help and equipment can often be inadequate. This means that children cannot communicate properly and their learning is affected.

Outside the UK, many children with disability do not even attend school. You might find the education packs on the World CP Day  website useful:


Making Our Contribution

Contributing to the world around us means we feel valued yet few adults with CP are working and we rarely see people with CP in the media.

Halldor Bjarnason talks about becoming a father, helping to make the world more inclusive. Alison also has a client with CP who has become a father; that child will have a more accepting view of the world and be richer for it. You can read Halldor’s blog here:


Lets all celebrate World CP Day; please spread this news story to encourage us all to think more about CP.






“Absolutely fantastic” service

This was the response from our client, Rae Scudder, who sent a note to Ed Myers and his assistant, Sue, after her road traffic claim settled.

On the evening of 16 November 2015, Rae was travelling home from her late shift,on on her moped, when she was hit by a vehicle which turned directly into her path.  Rae, a keen and talented dancer, sustained serious injury to both legs requiring intensive hospital treatment.  She underwent extensive physiotherapy, but was unable to either dance or teach dancing for many months.  Gradually however, through determination and commitment, she was able to resume her passion for dancing.

Ed Myers lawyer at Barratts Legal

How Did We Help Rae?

At Barratts we prioritise rehabilitation; Ed was able to assist Rae by persuading the insurers of the car driver to agree to an urgent initial assessment of Rae’s needs. This enabled us to get a payment to fund rehabilitation. This meant Rae could recover more quickly from her injuries meaning she could also get back to dancing much sooner.

Rae describes Ed’s advice as “straightforward, honest and trustworthy”. We pride ourselves that clients are recommended to come to Barratts for a personal, specialist service. That is why it’s great news to hear Rae tell us that “You made a difficult time much easier and I felt treated with dignity and respect throughout.”

Sue helped Rae by communicating direct with the Vehicle recovery company, making “complicated and confusing” jargon understandable. Indeed, Rae says that Sue remained “calm and collected” and she had”incredible support and service” from our Personal Injury team.

After lengthy negotiations, Ed persuaded the insurers to accept responsibility for the accident. They paid compensation for Rae’s physical and psychological injuries. The insurers also compensated Rae for her future losses because her injuries were likely to affect her career as a dancer.

We ask clients to tell us how we can improve our service. Rae said there was nothing – she thinks we are “efficient, professional and welcoming- I can’t praise them enough”.