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Website reviews

1 December 02

Reviews of websites relating to personal injury law

by Derek O’Carroll

www.medneg.com

This site is the product of two barristers from Middle Temple who are both apparently very experienced in medical negligence work. The site is an offshoot of their practice.  Geoffrey Hall is the publisher of Medical Negligence Reports and Charles Lewis publishes a practitioner’s guide on the subject. The site is very full with plenty of content although somewhat difficult to navigate at times. The free stuff includes a monthly update of medico-legal news, a list of links (mostly to sources of information about medical rather than medico-legal stuff) and some book reviews. The majority of the site is charged for, quite modestly by current standards. The cost is £120 per annum for an unlimited number of users from any one address. For that (reportedly: no expenses for writing this column, and no freebees either) you get the following: access to the full texts of cases published in Medical Negligence Reports (fully searchable); around 160 articles on medico-legal topics and, rather surprisingly, a database of settlements in medical negligence cases. The other novel features of the site are substantial databases of solicitors, counsel and medical experts, all cross-referred to cases in which they have appeared with their success or failure clearly shown. Not only that, but relevant comments from the court are included (at least as far as the experts are concerned): “It is a pity ... that Dr X did not take steps to find out what kind of machine was in use before Dr Y gave evidence”. Ouch.

Subjective Rating (where 5 is excellent and 1 is poor and no rating indicate that that category has not been assessed)

Usefulness 4/5

Site design 3/5

Updating frequency 5/5

www.apil.com

APIL is the acronym for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers which is an association of lawyers, mainly, whose aims include increasing access to justice for injured people and campaigning for law reform. Membership for a single practitioner is £170 p.a. plus VAT. The site has a members only section (which was undergoing maintenance when I accessed it last). It has an information exchange, newsletter, bulletin boards, information exchange and 14 specialist practice groups. The public part of the site has a useful list of up-to-date consultation papers on related topics hyper-linked to the web-source. There is also a modest list of public documents including the MIB scheme and notes to the MIB scheme. The links page is well laid out with a basic, but adequate, list. If this is all too parochial and you want to join the European peopil, try www.peopil.com: but it’ll cost you 110, and it’s not a patch on this website.

Usefulness 3/5

Site design 3/5

Updating frequency 3/5

www.childabuselawyers.com

This is another PI lawyers’ group whose particular interest is obvious from the domain name. The good thing about the site is that there is loads of information about news and developments concerning child abuse including: useful summaries of cases and links to the full judgments, newspaper reports, parliamentary material, consultation papers etc.. There is material on criminal cases, civil cases and miscarriages of justice including those who have been wrongly convicted. The bad news is that the design of the site is awful. Membership costs from £35 to £500 p.a. but access to most of the material is free.

Usefulness 4/5

Site design 1/5

Updating frequency 4/5

www.hse.gov.uk

The site of the Health and Safety Executive is a staple for all sorts of information. There are loads of leaflets, all in adobe format unfortunately, but they look pretty when printed out.  Most of the leaflets are aimed at the public but many contain very useful technical information. There is a section called information sources, which contains an A to Z listing of various sorts of leaflets and HSE information. The links section is very large and contains a list of other organisations concerned with health and safety including industry specific links. There are loads of statistics and such-like information. Unfortunately, there is no direct access to the legislation.

For that, you’ll need to go to www.hmso.gov.uk/legis.htm or pay around £190 p.a. and join the hsedirect service, run by the hse along with Butterworths, at www.hsedirect.com That site has the HSE Legal series, the HSE Guidance series, HSE Circular Forms as well as updated UK legislation and European Directives. It’s also doing its wee bit during the firefighters strike: the home page tells us that “The Fire Brigades’ Union has planned a series of strikes. HSE has been involved in advance planning discussions”. Click for more on that unexpected story…   

Usefulness 4/5

Site design 5/5

Updating frequency 4/5