Yorkshire Branch Seminar – ‘Keep it Civil’ – Report 14 May 2015

29 June 2015

134 members of the Yorkshire Branch attended the Annual Seminar held at Doncaster Racecourse on 14 May. This year’s theme moved away from “traditional” topics of criminal enforcement and specialist practice areas, to look at the role of the health and safety professional in civil proceedings. Members agreed that this was an element of their role that could easily be overlooked and for which many members felt unprepared, prior to the seminar.

The seminar built on previous topics covered by the Branch such as accident investigation, report writing and legal privilege. Members were encouraged to consider how these elements could play out in personal injury claims, an employment tribunal and in insurance.

Branch Chair, Ewhen Hasioszyn, welcomed presenters from Simpson & Marwick Solicitors, St Phillips Chambers and AON Global Risk Consulting. Kirsty Gomersal (Simpson & Marwick) opened the seminar by looking at how civil cases may be affected following the removal of breach of statutory duty as a cause of action, how uncontested FFI notices could be useful for claimants and how the “expertise” of the safety professional could be challenged in Court. 

Toby Scott (Simpson & Marwick) then took delegates through the “anatomy” of a civil claim from how claims are started and progressed to resolution. He highlighted how a safety professional’s evidence can be fundamental in assessing matters such as contributory negligence and quantum.

Philip Morton (AON) gave a unique insight into the role of the insurer and insurance broker. He took delegates through claims from the insurance perspective, the different objectives and premium calculations.

David Hughes (Simpson & Marwick) looked at the interaction (and conflicts!) between health and safety and HR, particularly when an accident investigation may reveal misconduct.  He took delegates through the different tests that apply in employment law in investigation / disciplinary hearings, the Tribunal process and alternatives to litigation such as mediation and negotiation.

The highlight of the seminar was undoubtedly Andrew Evans, barrister with St Phillips Chambers. Andrew gave a lively presentation on what to expect when called as a witness in civil proceedings – including how to prepare for giving evidence, what to expect in cross examination and tips for dealing with questioning. We also learnt that barristers need to be told everything 3 times!

The event concluded with a mock cross-examination in which Andrew (counsel for the Claimant in a personal injury action) cross-examined a H&S manager (played by Kirsty) on her report into an accident. The scenario was based on a “mock” Coroner’s inquest which was part of a previous annual seminar organised by the Branch. Delegates were given an extract from the report and witnessed questioning on experience, competence, investigation remit and evidence gathering.

The seminar was judged as being a huge success with feedback including:

“An excellent and rewarding seminar which has contributed to my knowledge and understanding of the legal system”.

“Balance of presentations was excellent and very informative”,

“Event justified turning up before first tea break”,

“Right mix of humour and knowledge. Very enjoyable”

“The day was very well put together and flowed. There was a gradual building on knowledge which kept emphasising the important points”.

Ewhen Hasioszyn said: “It is clear from the feedback received that the hard-working Yorkshire Branch committee has, once again, organised a highly successful annual seminar”.  

The Seminar presentations will be available for our members on the Yorkshire branch microsite, look in the members section and follow the links to podbean.