Supporting the Local Community

On Friday 21st March 2014 Broomhead & Saul Solicitors were proud supporters of the ‘Auction of Goods and Promises’ in the Othery Village Hall for the Somerset Community Foundation Flood Appeal Fund and donated a luxury hamper to the cause.

The auction was a tremendous success raising an impressive £10,853.53 for the appeal fund.

As of early March over £800,000 has been donated to the Fund by individuals, local businesses, charitable trusts and community groups that organised fundraising events. In that time over £220,000 has been distributed to more than 300 households affected by the floods. With pledges of future donations to the Fund, The Somerset Community Foundation are confident that £1m will have been raised very soon.

If readers of this article would like to make a donation to this cause please follow the link below

Broomhead & Saul has always prioritised supporting the efforts of their local community and will continue to do so proudly in the future.

Clinical Negligence: Information on making a claim guide


Broomhead & Saul accepts instructions for all clinical negligence cases including dental negligence, cases involving minors, and fatal accident claims. We understand how a person can already feel that they have been mistreated at the point where they consider pursuing a claim, and we combine providing expert advice with the prioritisation of customer care. We also focus on supporting the needs of our local community and residents offering a first class service with a personal touch. Broomhead & Saul do not accept any Personal Injury or Clinical Negligence clients without meeting the client in person first.

Below is some key information to help guide you through the stages of a clinical negligence claim:

Time limits for bringing your claim

Generally, you must start formal legal proceedings for clinical negligence within three years of the date of the injury or of when you had knowledge that the mistake occurred. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to issue your claim at court outside the three year limit and we will advise if this exception applies to you.

If you are pursuing a claim on behalf of a child, legal proceedings must be started before their 21st birthday.

Special rules also apply to people who do not have the capacity to conduct their own affairs but the

general rule is that, while they do not have that capacity, there is no time limit for bringing a claim.

Funding your claim

There are several ways in which a claim can be paid for. We will discuss your options in more

detail at your initial meeting but the main forms of funding are:

  • Legal expenses insurance

You may have legal expenses cover as part of your home, car or other insurance that will pay for all, or part, of the legal costs. We will need details of all the relevant insurance policies you held at the time of your injury, as well as any current policies, to enable us to check whether the policy provides cover to investigate a clinical negligence claim.

  • Trade union funding

If you are a member of a trade union, you may be eligible for trade union funding. We will need details of your membership so we can find out whether funding will be available for your claim.

  • Private funding

If you fund the claim yourself, we will ask you for some money on account at the beginning of the claim and invoice you periodically. You will be charged for the time we spend working on your claim, based on an hourly rate that will be fixed at the beginning of your claim and reviewed regularly. You will also incur a number of expenses, known as disbursements, such as experts’ and barristers’ fees.

  • Funding through a Conditional Fee Agreement

We may be able to take on your claim under a funding agreement known as a Conditional Fee

Agreement. This can also be called a “No Win No Fee” agreement. Before offering such an agreement, we need to understand the facts behind your claim and its strength and you may be asked

Who will handle your claim?

Your claim will be handled by a small team of specialist, local lawyers. All team members will be familiar with your file, and you can feel secure in the knowledge that when you call the person answering will know who you are, and the circumstances of your incident.

 Investigating your claim

Before going to Court, we need to establish the strength of your claim and whether it is likely to

succeed. The early tasks, which will take a number of months (sometimes a year or more), we will focus on gathering evidence and obtaining the professional opinions of independent experts and, where appropriate, a barrister.

Gathering evidence

To assist with establishing your claim, we will:

  • Prepare witness statements based on your recollection of events;
  • Gather the relevant medical records from your GP, and any hospitals and private doctors that you attended; and
  • Obtain opinion(s) on your claim from independent medical expert(s) to assess whether the treatment or care received fell below an acceptable standard.

Proving your claim

Three factors must be proved before a claim can be established:

  • A “breach of duty” by the healthcare provider(s) caring for you. This is when the treatment or care you received fell below an acceptable standard;
  • An injury or a worse than expected outcome; and
  • The injury or outcome was caused by the breach of duty (this is called “causation”).

A “breach of duty” may include:

  • Failure or delay in diagnosis;
  • Failure or delay in instituting appropriate investigation/care;
  • Failure to take proper account of investigations/ test results;
  • Failure to take account of a previous medical history;
  • Failure to take appropriate care when operating;
  • Premature discharge from hospital; and/or failure to obtain a patient’s consent.

Deciding to go ahead /Pre-action protocol

At the end of the investigative period and before commencing formal Court proceedings, a

number of things, collectively known as the “preaction protocol”, need to happen. First, a Letter of Claim is sent to the Defendant (the doctor or NHS Trust against whom the claim is being made) setting out details of the allegations of negligence and the harm the negligence caused.

Within four months, the Defendant must provide a Letter of Response setting out details of its reply

to the allegations. The Letter of Response may give a full or partial admission of liability, or it may

simply set out the Defendant’s response to the claim without making any admission. A final decision about whether to continue the claim is then made in light of the Letter of Response.

 Valuing your claim (“quantum”)

The purpose of compensation is to return you, as far as possible, to the position you would have been in but for the negligence. If your claim is successful, you will receive compensation for:

General damages – an amount of money to cover pain, suffering and “loss of amenity” caused by an injury. General damages apply to both physical and psychological injuries or injuries that are a combination of the two.

Past losses, sometimes called “special damages” e.g. earnings, travel and medical expenses, additional travel costs; and

Future losses e.g. care that you will need in the future, changes to your accommodation, aids and


Settlement out of Court

Most claims settle before they reach trial. The Court encourages parties to do this by way of

written settlement offers, mediation and round table meetings. We will guide you as to whether we think an offer made by a Defendant is reasonable. A settlement offer must be considered carefully because, if you refuse it and then recover the same amount or less at trial, a Judge can order costs penalties against you. It may be appropriate for you to make an offer to the Defendant to settle your claim and we will advise you what a reasonable settlement would be.

 If the claim is headed towards trial

Generally the trial is scheduled to take place within 12-18 months of a Claim Form being issued at

Court. A lot of detailed preparation work is done during this period, including reviewing the defence,

gathering and listing relevant documents, finalising and serving witness and expert evidence, arranging meetings of experts, and calculating the full value of your claim.


Where parties cannot reach agreement, the claim will be decided by a Judge at trial. The trial Judge then decides who should win, on what grounds. If the Claimant is successful, the Judge will decide how much compensation should be paid.

We hope you have found the information helpful, and if you would like to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim please telephone:

Andrea Pollard on 01823 447 438

Danielle Silsby on 01823 447 416

Joanne Margetts on 01823 447 416

SURE (Somerset Unit for Radiotherapy Equipment)

Why Make A Will ?

julia clegg of broomhead & saul

Because ‘peace of mind is priceless’ says Julia Clegg, Managing Partner at Broomhead & Saul Solicitors of Taunton and Ilminster.

If, after your lifetime, you wish to help SURE to continue to provide assistance for local cancer patients then you must make a valid Will to include a specific gift to them. A gift to a charity such as SURE is exempt from Inheritance Tax and may in certain circumstances reduce the Inheritance Tax otherwise payable on the rest of your estate.

We all tend to put off making a Will, but it is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. The legal requirements for a valid Will are strict and you need to know that the words used will really have the legal effect you intend.

You also need to ensure your assets are properly protected from avoidable Inheritance Tax or other unintended consequences that may arise due to a change in your or your family’s circumstances.

As a solicitor specialising in this area, I have seen the distress and expense caused to relatives at a difficult time because there is no Will or a Will has not been properly drawn or updated.

Assumptions are often made that without a Will your nearest and dearest will benefit anyway. That is not necessarily the case and the rules which apply in the absence of a Will benefit only a spouse or civil partner and/or blood relatives: they make no provision for instance for cohabitees, step-children or step-grandchildren. They certainly do not provide for gifts to charity.

It is important not to delay or leave it to chance and you should seek professional help in making a Will specifically tailored to suit your circumstances. Solicitors undergo a lengthy and vigorous training and they are subject to strict professional rules which give clients additional safeguards. It may not be as expensive as you think and there may be other additional benefits. At Broomhead & Saul Solicitors, we provide safe storage without imposing an annual charge and can register the location of your Will on the “Certainty” National Will Register free of charge.


  • Do make a Will;
  • Do seek professional help from a solicitor;
  • Any gift you may choose to make to SURE may have tax benefits and will, in any event, be very much appreciated and put to good use.

If you would like to discuss making a Will or changing your Will, please feel free to contact me or any member of our probate team free of charge for further information on Taunton 01823 288 121 or Ilminster 01460 570 56


Broomhead and Saul put scouts and marines through their paces

A TAUNTON scout group landed a windfall from Broomhead and Saul solicitors in Taunton this week. The solicitor’s firm sponsored the land rowing  event in which beavers, scouts and cubs decided to put their rowing skills to the test to help raise funds for The Royal Marine Charitable Trust and the Central Taunton Scout Group. The scout group organised this latest fund raising event on the 6th June in support of a team of Royal Marines who took part in The Non Tidal Thames 24 Challenge 2013 in May this year. The team of marines rowed the River Thames from Lechlade to Teddington, covering a distance of 125 miles, taking 24 hours, having to negotiate 42 locks and approximately 30,000 strokes.  Their aim was to raise a total of £30,000 and the Scout group wanted to help them fill their float.


Broomhead & Saul Law Prize

The 2012 Broomhead & Saul Law Prize was awarded to Adam Mercer for his achievements at Richard Huish College.  Broomhead & Saul Partners Julia Clegg and Paul Brierley were delighted to present the award at the College’s annual Reunion and Prize Giving at Somerset County Cricket Ground on 16 April.  Adam is studying Law at Cardiff University and the award was collected on his behalf  by his mother, Mrs Mercer.  Congratulations to Adam and many thanks to the staff of Richard Huish College, in particular Jackie Lake, for their kind hospitality.

Help to Buy Scheme

The Chancellor said the scheme will be available to everyone who wants to buy a home, old or new, under the Help to Buy scheme from 2014.

He will help people get on or move up the property ladder by offering Government “mortgage guarantees” totalling £130 billion. Prospective buyers would contribute 5 per cent of the value of the property and the Government will guarantee another 15 per cent.

This will mean people can afford a bigger mortgage with a small deposit. Effectively, the buyer would be getting a 95 per cent mortgage where the bank might currently only have lent them 80 per cent of the value of the property.

Many people have struggled to save up enough since banks scrapped their best mortgage lending deals after the financial crisis.


In a separate part of the initiative, the Government will offer interest-free loans for five years if people want to buy new-build homes.

The loans will be worth up to 20 per cent of the value of a newly built homes, with the buyer contributing 5 per cent as a deposit.

They will be available to anyone who wants to buy a new-built home worth up to £600,000 and repaid only when the property is sold.

The Help-to-Buy schemes will support millions of people who currently cannot afford deposits to buy a new home, as long as they pass credit checks.

Previous schemes have only helped first time buyers and those with an income of less than £60,000.


The Minefield of Joint ownership – getting it right

The recent cases of Stack v Dowden and Jones v Kernott have introduced a large degree of uncertainty to joint ownership which has far reaching implications for property owners.

These cases make this area a potential litigation minefield.  We are able to advise our clients to ensure that they are aware of the potential consequences of not making a declaration of trust at the time of acquisition. Many of our clients may not want details of their interests in the property to be be a matter of public record (by using the Land Registry forms on purchase for example).  If our clients wish these details to remain confidential we may advise our clients to make a separate declaration of trust.  There are many traps for the unwary and it is best to avoid litigation, costs and personal conflict by getting it right in the first place.  That is what Broomhead and Saul prides itself in doing.

The Legal Bit – It is complicated, so we have broken it down to assist digestion!

Where a property is purchased in joint names, the parties will hold the ‘legal estate’ as joint tenants and the ‘beneficial interest’ in the property as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. Joint tenants are entitled to the property equally, whereas tenants in common are able to hold the property in either equal or unequal shares. An example of tenants in common is that Mr X and Ms Y hold the property on trust, 60% as to Mr A and 40% for Ms B.

Most disputes in this area occur where things go wrong between unmarried co-habitees, but such disputes can also arise between family members, friends or business partners who purchase property together.

An express declaration of trust may help to avoid disputes in the case of death, relationship breakdown or sale of the property, as it is generally conclusive as to the parties’ respective interests in the property. The declaration can be made using a Land Registry form or a separate trust document.

If the owners expressly declare themselves to be ‘joint tenants’ and the property is subsequently sold, the assets will be divided between the parties in equal shares. If the owners are ‘tenants in common’ and expressly declare the shares in which they hold the property, the proceeds of sale will be divided in those proportions.

Most problems arise if an express declaration of trust is not made. It can be extremely difficult to determine the share in the property that each party is entitled to if their individual interests are not recorded at the time of acquisition. Where a property is purchased in joint names and there is no express declaration of trust, the general presumption is that the parties hold the property as joint tenants. However, there is considerable uncertainty in this area of the law due to the effect of recent cases.

In a case called Stack v Dowden, where no express declaration of trust had been made, the parties will be presumed to be ‘joint tenants’ and entitled to equal shares in the property unless one party can show that the property was intended to be held differently.*  A wide range of factors can be taken into account to show this but it will only be in exceptional or unusual cases that a court will be persuaded that the parties intended something other than equal shares.

In a case called Jones v Kernott, they added that if it could be shown that the parties had intended to hold the property in separate shares, but that it was not possible to determine the size of the shares they had intended each to have, then the court would have to decide what was fair based on the whole course of dealing between the parties in relation to the property.

Conclusion – All very messy if an express declaration is not made.  Please contact our Property team to assist.

[*Note: This presumption of entitlement to equal shares does not apply to commercial property or to property purchased as an investment.  In such cases, in the absence of any relevant discussions or agreements between the parties that show they intended otherwise, their beneficial shares will reflect the size of their contributions.]