Taking Somebody to Court for a Monetary Claim

If you are owed money by somebody and they are refusing to pay, then you are probably wondering how to take them to court in order to collect the debt. You can launch a monetary claim through the courts against an individual or a business, but for many ordinary people the idea is an imposing one and it is hard to know where to begin.

The following information may not hold true for cases worth more than £100,000 (or, in personal injury cases, £50,000).

Before you Begin

Taking somebody to court over a claim should generally be a last resort for when other routes have failed. Before you take somebody to court over a debt, you should try other methods. This might just mean contacting them a few times and ensuring they have had a chance to pay up of their own accord or, if there is a genuine disagreement rather than a simple failure to pay, then you could try an alternative dispute resolution process. You should also be aware that, if professional legal representation is necessary, you will have to pay the necessary fees even if your claim is successful so you should look into these costs and account for them. There are also court fees though depending on your circumstances you may be able to add these onto the value of the claim so that it is paid by the other side as long as you are successful, or there may be help available with fees if you are on a low income.

Starting Your Claim

Your claim will be handled by the county court, but will be handled differently depending on the value of the claim.

If you claim is worth under £10,000 it will usually be allocated to the small claims track. This is the simplest and fastest track. It will often not require any physical appearance in court, though this may become necessary if the other party disputes that they owe you the money you claim, and it is designed so that most people will be able to complete the process without the help of a professional solicitor. In many cases, the claimant has to do little more than fill out an online form to initiate the claim.

Claims worth more than £10,000 but less then £25,000 will normally be assigned to the fast track, and claims of a higher value than this will be put into the multi track. These are more complicated and involved than the small claims track, and you may well benefit from professional legal help.

What Happens Next

It may well be that merely starting a claim is enough to show you are serious and prompt them to pay up. This is very often the case when somebody has simply failed to pay you the money they owe rather than disputed that they owe it. If they dispute or fail to respond to the claim however, then it is difficult to say how things will proceed as this varies a lot from case to case. It may be that the court will simply review the information you have provided and any evidence, such as written communications proving they had agreed to pay, and award your claim, or it may be that a more involved process with witnesses and physical court appearances becomes necessary.

If your claim is successful, then the other party will be ordered to pay up. Note, however, that if they have not got the money and are physically unable to pay up, then even a court order may be of limited use.

The Different Courts of England and Wales

There are many different kinds of court in England and Wales, and this can be confusing. However, each court has its own place, serving a distinct purpose and specialising in specific kinds of case. Essentially, the many courts of the English and Welsh justice system fall into three groups.

Criminal Courts

The following courts are part of the criminal court system:

  • Magistrates’ Courts: This is where all criminal cases begin, presided over by a lay magistrate with no jury. Minor crimes such as disorderly conduct or motoring offences may be dealt with entirely by the magistrate. More major crimes, or cases requiring a sentence greater than magistrates are able to impose, will be referred up to the next level. The Youth Court, dealing with crimes by 10-17-year-olds, is also part of the Magistrates’ Court.

  • Crown Courts: More serious cases such as robbery, rape, and murder will be passed on to the crown courts after the initial hearing by the magistrate. The Crown Court also handles appeals against decisions made in Magistrates’ Courts.

Civil Courts

The justice system of England and Wales contains the following Civil Courts:

  • The County Court: The County Court is the first port of call for civil disputes. The claim can be initiated through any County Court but might later be transferred to the court local to the defendant. Cases such as personal injury claims, consumer disputes, discrimination, and employment disputes can all be handled in the County Courts. The Small Claims Court or, more accurately, small claims track, is part of the County Court.

  • The Family Court: Unsurprisingly, the Family Court is the court that deals with family matters – although some cases that are also criminal such as abuse may go to the criminal courts instead. Things like divorce, adoption, and arrangements for care of and access to children will go through the Family Courts.

Higher Courts

Higher courts usually hear both criminal and civil cases. They tend to handle especially complex cases or an appeals against decisions made in a civil or criminal court.

  • The High Court: The High Court is split into three divisions. The Chancery Division isfor things like financial matters and wills. The Queens Bench Division handles large-scale or particularly complicated compensation claims, along with some appeals from criminal courts. Finally, the Family Division handles complex family-related matters as well as appeals.

  • Court of Appeal: As the name implies, the Court of Appeal handles appeals from other courts. It is responsible for reviewing appeals from both the civil and criminal court system, including some appeals that have already been heard in the High Court.

  • The Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is the highest-authority court in the UK. It is the last port of appeal – barring cases which involve international law and could be taken to an international court such as the European Court of Justice – and it handles appeals against cases that have already been through the Court of Appeal. Usually it takes on cases where the ruling has wide-reaching importance beyond the individual case at hand.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is an important part of the way the UK legal system operates. It is one of the principles that is used to try to ensure that everybody is treated fairly and has their rights upheld – in other words, to ensure that justice is done – while also encouraging communication and reparation between all parties. More specifically, it aims (where appropriate) to bring perpetrators of crimes and the affected parties together, encouraging communication and aiming to allow everybody to play a role in putting things right.

The Basics

The idea behind restorative justice is simpler than it may appear. In principle, it is simply the idea of righting wrongs and encouraging the rehabilitation of offenders. The aim of restorative justice is to ensure that, when a person or even a community has lost out as a result of a crime, the damage that has done will be repaired and the wrongs made right – as far as this is possible, at least. This might mean having stolen property or ill-gotten money returned, or it may involve compensation being paid for damage or distress that has been caused. Dealing out a punishment to a criminal is often termed as “bringing them to justice,” but this alone is not really what justice means. Justice means righting the wrongs that have been done and restoring fairness, and this usually involves reparations of some kind as well as punishment. Restorative justice follows these principles and takes them one step further, encouraging offenders to play an active role in seeking to make amends and repair the damage they have done.

The Aims of Restorative Justice

Put simply, the aims of restorative justice are simply to ensure that, wherever and as much as possible, wrongs are made right and damage is repaired or compensated. More specifically, however, the UK legal system generally recognises restorative justice as having three goals at heart:

  • Justice for Victims: This is perhaps the aim of restorative justice that will spring most readily to mind for most people. Naturally the parties that will most often have lost out as a result of a crime are the direct victims of the offence, so trying to repay or compensate the losses of the victims is a central part of restorative justice.

  • Repay the Community: Committing a crime is generally seen as not just a wrong against the “direct” victims but also against the community. Restorative justice aims to deal with crimes in a way that will create value for the local community – in a sense compensating society – and help offenders to have a place in that community, while upholding the public’s confidence in the UK justice system.

  • Rehabilitation of Perpetrators: Restorative Justice is not just about making things right for victims but also engaging with those who committed the offences in question. Restorative justice principles, as generally understood by the UK justice system, also involve reaching out to offenders, attempting to make sure they grasp the consequences and implications of their actions by bringing them face-to-face with those affected, and giving them a chance to make amends.

Over and above normal justice system, restorative justice principles encourage offenders to face up to what they have done and the harm they have caused. It can also help victims to get answers to the questions they are left with after an offence, and mean they are more likely to receive an apology because of the way that offenders are engaged directly.

Brexit Could be Risk to Legal Sector

According to figures within the industry, Brexit could pose a risk to the UK’s legal sector without proper safeguards. A report from TheCityUK, a lobby group, if the government does not manage to secure the necessary guarantees for the British legal sector then the industry will suffer after the country has left the European Union.

Chief executive of TheCityUK Miles Celic described the legal services industry in the UK as “the leading global centre for the provision of international legal services and dispute resolution.” However, the lobby group’s report said that this enviable status could be put in danger by the consequences of Brexit unless proper safeguards are put in place to protect the UK’s role in international law.

Specifically, the group’s concerns relate to what is known as “mutual enforcement.” Under these rules, all member states of the EU agree that they will recognise, uphold, and enforce the law of the other members. When the country ceases to be a member state, this will no longer apply to the UK automatically, and TheCityUK believes that this would be bad news for the legal services industry.

The group has called upon the government to investigate alternative possibilities and to seek appropriate guarantees to ensure that the UK can remain a part of mutual enforcement arrangements. If this were to be lost, they say that the UK would become “less attractive” as a jurisdiction in which multinational businesses could form contracts and resolve their disputes and the “primacy of English law” would be eroded.

The UK’s legal services sector is currently estimated to be worth around £26 billion and, according to the report, provides employment for roughly 370,000 individuals. The UK’s role in the global legal sector accounts for no small part of this. Currently, more than 10,000 people are employed by over 200 foreign legal services firms operating in the UK.

The report also warns that the legal industry will be disproportionately hurt by Brexit if the UK’s withdrawal from the union should negatively impact industries which provide legal firms with key clients. This includes the property, financial services, communications, energy, and technology sectors.

Some of these industries have already expressed their concerns about the potential consequences of Brexit. For example BBA, a key lobby group for the UK banking sector, has warned that the process of leaving the EU could have a profound negative impact on its industry and the ability of banks to continue doing business as they have been. Some international banks, the BBA warned, may even choose to leave the UK market altogether if their operations on British soil are hit too hard by the country’s exit from the union.

Lord Justice Briggs Urges Lawyers to Work With Reform

lord-justice-briggsA senior judge has urged solicitors to adopt “a shared responsibility for success” and to work with rather than against the process of change and reform in the legal industry. Speaking at a recent dinner for the London Solicitors Litigation Association, Lord Justice Briggs (pictured right) said that the legal sector “shouldn’t go on to wish for the impossible or for the preservation of the status quo.”

Briggs said that it was unlikely funding for legal aid would return to the levels seen before LASPO, saying that “the courts service is not like the health service a protected department of state.” He therefore expressed the view that lawyers could not realistically wish for a restoration of something resembling the previous state of legal aid. Neither, he said, should the legal profession “wish for rigidly maintaining the full-retailer basis as the only way in which ordinary people can access legal systems.” Rather, he said, lawyers should engage and work with the process of reform in the legal sector, in order to feed back on proposed changes and play a role in shaping the direction those changes take.

At present, Briggs suggested, lawyers should particularly aim to engage with and provide feedback on proposed changes to the way personal injury cases are dealt with in the small claims court. At present, a personal injury case such as a traffic injury or accident at work compensation claim is only eligible for the small claims court, which often resolves cases without professional legal assistance being needed for either party, if its value does not exceed £1,000. Recent government proposals could see this limit increased to as much as £5,000. The potential for fixed-costs to be extended into the multitrack were also raised by Briggs as a current area of reform with which lawyers should be engaging. Both of these matters, he said, were ones which intersect with “real political issues.”

This is not the first time that Briggs has spoken on the subject of progress in the legal sector, and not the first time his comments have suggested a move away from strict adherence to traditional, lawyer-led models of justice. Earlier this year, Briggs added his voice to those who have spoken in favour of introducing online court systems. These, he said, could allow the public to receive justice and resolve many cases with little direct involvement from lawyers. While some in the legal profession agreed with Briggs’ comments on this subject, others were less keen. For instance, the Civil Justice council raised concerns that this could introduce elements of digital exclusion to the way that people are able to gain access to justice in the UK.

Unregulated Legal Service Providers Performing Better in Key Areas

Research from the Legal Services Board (LSB) has found that the unregulated section of the legal sector is “neither as big nor as problematic as some have suggested.” More than this, however, the LSB has identified several key areas in which unregulated providers of legal services tend to outperform their regulated counterparts.

Unregulated legal service providers are generally both cheaper and more transparent in how they price their services, the LSB reported. Often, these providers advertise prices openly on their website, and make more extensive use of flat-rate fees for certain services. Despite being generally lower-priced, the Board’s research also suggests that unregulated providers tend to maintain strong standards of client service. The LSB also said that unregulated providers are often more innovative than regulated competitors. They are more likely to use technological solutions to improve service provision, and are “markedly more likely to have introduced a new or improved services in the previous three years.”

However, while the research suggests that there are advantages to choosing unregulated providers, there are also disadvantages. For example, clients using unregulated providers of legal services do not benefit from the same extensive body of protections that those using regulated providers have. Furthermore, the research suggested that consumers lack awareness about the regulatory status of providers, the differences between the two, or the protections they have when using each one, suggesting that people may have difficulty in making an informed decision about whether to use a regulated or unregulated provider for their legal needs.

According to the report, levels of satisfaction among those who have used each kind of provider are almost the same. 81% of those who had used an unregulated provider reported that they were satisfied with the service they had received, compared to an only slightly higher figure of 84% among those who had used regulated providers.

The research examined unregulated providers of services relating to divorce, wills, and intellectual property. It found that 5% of all paid legal advice in these fields came from an unregulated provider. Family law was the area in which unregulated providers were found to be most prominent, accounting for 10-13% of all paid advice.

In some areas, the difference between prices for the same service between regulated and unregulated legal providers was extremely marked. For example, it was found that an uncontested divorce could cost between £36 and £172 from an unregulated online provider, where a traditional solicitor would charge £722 on average.

Some professional bodies, however, have claimed that this report understates the levels of risk involved in using an unregulated legal service. Bar Council chair, Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC, said: “Using unqualified and insufficiently insured providers of advice in family matters, which will often involve children, instead of using the services of properly regulated professional lawyers, carries considerable risk for all concerned.”

Sheffield Encourages Law Firms to Move North

SheffieldThe City of Sheffield is encouraging law firms to move North, and is particularly urging them to consider relocating to Sheffield. A presentation held at the headquarters of the Law Society recently saw Creative Sheffield and representatives from some of the law firms currently headquartered in the city extol the benefits of Sheffield to an audience of consultants and legal firms from around the UK.

The city’s quality of living was among the main benefits of Sheffield highlighted by speakers. The city has high living standards and a reputation as a pleasant area thanks to its green spaces and large amounts of historic architecture. It is also an affordable place both to live and do business compared to the South, like many Northern cities are, and compared to London especially it offers far lower rents for both commercial and residential properties.

The central selling point, however, was the “pipeline” of graduates from the city’s universities. Speakers pointed to graduates from Sheffields higher education institutions as a constant and valuable stream of fresh talent for firms based in the city to snap up.

According to hlw Keeble Hawson partner Giles Searby, the city has a high retention rate of students. Many graduates, he said, opt to remain in Sheffield when they have completed their studies and make it their home, creating a significant talent pool for companies in Sheffield to tap into.

When other firms move into the city, Searby went on to say, there are benefits both for the firms who make the move and those already in the city. Despite the high student retention rate in the initial stages after graduation, Searby said that if alumni of the city’s universities are to continue to remain for more than a few years they need access to “a full career path within the city region so people can build their lives and careers within the city.” More firms moving to Sheffield and the surrounding area, he believes, will help to provide this, aiding long term talent retention for the benefit of all firms.

Matthew Peacock, a partner at OMC Consultants, pointed to the number of major law firms already holding a presence in the region. 14 of the UK’s top 30 firms, he said, had northshore offices.

“Law firms and lawyers are living in a different landscape to 10 years ago,” Peacock said. “The marketplace has changed and is continuing to change. All firms are under pressure to deliver more for less.”

Mixed Feelings in Legal Profession About Online Courts

Online CourtLegal professionals have been expressing mixed views about proposals to establish an online-only court. The digital court system would allow certain claims to be settled entirely online and without the need for lawyers, and is proposed as an efficient way of handling claims with a monetary value of up to £25,000.

The majority of lawyers and barristers have expressed reservations or outright opposition to the proposals. The Bar Council, in particular, recently warned against the problems it believes would be involved with the introduction of such a system.

The Bar Council called an online court without lawyers a “fundamental departure” from the UK’s current and traditional system of justice. It also warned that creating such a court and funnelling a large number of claims worth £25,000 or less could have “major implications” for the judiciary and, in particular, a “significant impact” on the junior bar.

The introduction of an entire court system that does not involve professional advocacy, the Bar Council said, would enshrine a two-tier structure in the UK justice system. Furthermore, the fact that this court would, according to the proposals, involve case officers with an essentially judicial role that does not neatly fit with any existing legal position would lead to a “shift to a career judiciary of a very different character.”

The Bar Council also said that claims worth under £25,000 play an important role in allowing barristers to build up experience and vital skills in the early stages of their career. Handling many of them through a court system with no need for professional legal advocates, they said, risked hampering new barristers on their journey towards becoming leaders in their field or entering the judiciary.

The City of London Law Society (CLLS), on the other hand, has given its support to the proposals, saying that the creation of the online court would have the potential to bring “huge benefits” to the UK’s justice system. The Society said that it did not object either to the court’s existence in order to handle claims with a value of up to £25,000 nor to the idea of the court being the sole route for handling cases that fall within its remit. This stance places the CLLS firmly opposite not only the Bar Council but most other professional bodies in the legal sector. The Law Society, for example, said that it would not support the handling of anything more than straightforward disputes through such a court, nor the use of the online system for cases worth over £10,000.

The CLLS’ response to the proposals was not entirely without reservations, however. The organisation stressed that a thorough pilot scheme and a rigorous testing process would be necessary before such a court could be launched in full.

LCJ Report Raises Concerns About Justice System

The Lord Chief Justice’s annual report to parliament has raised a number of concerns about the justice system. Among these concerns are a lack of affordability, growing numbers of people representing themselves, and the impact these and other factors are having on the morale of judges.

The accessibility of justice from a financial viewpoint was among the key concerns raised by the Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, in his latest annual report. Changes to legal aid have left many without financial assistance when it comes to finding professional legal representation, and many have instead appeared in court as litigants in person. Such changes had, he warned, meant that justice was fast becoming something that was “unaffordable to most” and the rise in the number of self-representing people in court is down to the fact that they simply cannot afford third party representation.

However, Lord Thomas also praised the way many legal professionals had handled the implementation of the cuts, saying: “Court staff and the judiciary worked hard to minimise disruption to all court users; they should be commended for their dedication and commitment in ensuring that court business carried on.”

The report also criticised the justice system’s IT infrastructure, which it said was outdated not suitable for purpose. The IT systems of the judiciary, he said, “severely impede the delivery of justice” because of their failings, and rely on an out-of-date operating system version that no longer has available support channels.

Lord Thomas did, however, say that 2015 had been the year that an “agreement was finally reached… after many years of discussions” which would see HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) upgrade their IT infrastructure. HMCTS would, the report said, move over to “a modern system known as “e-judiciary” which provides modern software and cloud-based secured storage.”

The morale of judges was also a significant issue raised in the report. In particular, the Lord Chief Justice pointed to changes to the pension provisions available to those in the judiciary, describing the impact of these changes on morale as “significant.” The report also spoke of “a widespread feeling” among judges “of not being valued or appreciated for their work.”

Regarding workloads, the report claimed that these are rising due to an “emerging trend of increase in cybercrime and crimes related to terrorism” as well as an increase in the reporting of sexual offences. Lord Thomas called urgently for “very significant improvement to forward projections for court business based on offences reported to the police.”

A lack of judicial diversity was also raised as a concern. Female judges, Lord Thomas said, are more present than ever in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, but black and minority ethnic background judges remain at a “disappointing” level of just 7%.

Sailing in the Canaries: A Clarification Of Personal Injury Law

The law regularly needs updating, so that legal tests and principles reflect modern issues and society. Indeed, sometimes the law needs a clarification concerning a grey area of uncertainty.

One such case that both updated and clarified the law (relating to personal injury and employment) was before the High Court this May- Vaughan v MoD [2015] EWHC 1404 (QB). The case was brought by Spencer Vaughan, 27, of the Royal Marines, against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

2010 had seen Marine Vaughan taking part in a sailing expedition with fellow Marines. The sailing was organised and arranged by the Royal Navy & Royal Marines, and was considered an adventurous training expedition for the benefit of the personal development and training of the Marines –as well as being good fun, and an experience for all on board.

The voyage was around the Canary Islands. On the last day of the voyage, a lack of win caused the very experienced skipper to delay the sailing of the vessel from Puerto Mogan marina in Gran Canaria. The skipper expected the wind to pick up later that day – and told the Marines under sail training that they had free time until later that afternoon. The Marines promptly went ashore, and took advantage of that unexpected free time by visiting the beach at Puerto Mogan. Whilst at the beach, waist deep in water, Mne Vaughan attempted a “Baywatch style” dive. In doing so, he unfortunately struck his head against a submerged sandbank, and sustained “a fracture of his cervical spine.”

Following the accident, Mne Vaughan started personal injury claims proceedings against the Royal Marines- with the case appearing before the High Court in May of this year. The basis of his claim was that he had been injured as a result of a breach of the duty of care that the MoD owed him. He argued that he was on a “training exercise” at the time of the accident (the sailing expedition), and was therefore covered by the liabilities existing between employers and employees at the time. Therefore, the MoD owed him the same duty of care at the time of his accident as any civilian employer would for a workplace accident.

The MoD argued against this. According to the MoD, at the time of the accident, the Marines were not “on duty” at the time, or working for the Marines at time. Although they were on a training exercise, they had been told that they were on their own time prior to leaving for the beach; as such, they were not under the responsibility of the MoD. Further, although the skipper (Corporal Sanders) had, by law, a duty and responsibility for his crew and the Marines under his command in the vessel, he was not present on the beach at time of the accident. Further, in such a situation, if Cpl Sanders had been present, his permission would not have been asked for such activities as diving into the sea.

It was up to Mr Justice William Davis in the High Court to determine whether the employee/employer relationship and liabilities was present at the time of the accident. In his verdict, he started by summarising the key matters of law. Amidst other such points, to Judge Davis, the overall legal point under debate was, at the time of the accident, did the Royal Marines owe Mne Vaughan a duty of care at the time of the accident?

Quoting from his speech,

“The duty [of care] cannot be greater than the duty that would be owed by an employer i.e. the duty covers the performance of the “work” done by Marine Vaughan and anything reasonably incidental to that “work”. If his activity was outside the course of his “employment” the Defendant owed no duty qua employer.” (p.13)

From p.14, it is evident that the Marines themselves all considered themselves to be “working” for the MoD throughout the voyage;

“Marine Vaughan said that he considered himself to be on duty for the whole time that he was deployed on the training exercise i.e. from the moment he left to travel to the Canaries until the point of his return. He took that view because he had been ordered to go on the training exercise. Marine Barnett was of the same view for what amounted to the same reason. His rationale was that, because Corporal Sanders could have exercised control over him on the morning of the 23rd January had he wanted to, he was on duty. Marine Keenan also said that he was on duty for the whole of the period of the training exercise. He commented that a Royal Marine represents the service at all times whether in or out of uniform. Corporal Quirk was of the view that the issue was a grey area. He said that, had he gone to the beach and told the Marines to go back to the boat, they would have had to do so. To that extent they were on duty. Equally, the Marines at the relevant time were free to do whatever they wanted.”

This would (probably) include matters such as the trip to the beach. However, the same paragraph also illustrates the grey area present. According to MoD publications referred to by the Judge, even the MoD recognises that even when participating in adventurous training and other supporting military activities (and definition “on duty”) there are times where the participant can be said to be “off duty”.

The skipper clearly had stated that the Marines had free time that morning, there being no work to do on the boat- and had given them no further instructions or orders. Indeed, he was unsure as to where they had gone, demonstrating that at that moment he was no longer in charge of them –despite absolutely having responsibility for them. As such, Judge Davis at p.16 is drawn to the conclusion that the Marines were of duty whilst on the beach. It is as if the Judge is somewhat reluctant to make that admission, but is forced to by the logic of his line of reasoning and legal argument.

Throughout, Judge Davis returns to the point that the Marines in question had considered themselves on duty throughout. At p.17, this is called into question:

“The proposition that the Defendant should have treated the Marines as being on duty because the Marines thought they were on duty is not sustainable; not least because the Defendant – whether via Corporal Sanders or otherwise – had no reason for believing that this was what the Marines thought.”

Although the verdict is fairly obvious at this point, Judge Davis still has further issues to clarify; the conclusion in relation to “on duty” does not determine the issue of whether Marine Vaughan was acting in the course of his “employment” (p.18). Even though on adventurous training, and indirectly working towards their mental and physical fitness – of great importance to the Marines – once again, it cannot be said that the Marines were on duty

Judge Davis throughout gently (and it seems with reluctance) proves the point that, although there was responsibility and a degree of liability throughout, the Marines at the time of the accident cannot be said to have been under the command and control of the MoD at the time of the accident. As such, there was no employer/employee liability- and therefore no breach, causation or any of the usual elements of tort. At p.38, Judge Davis dismisses the appeal.

Although clearly at work, and indirectly working for their employer, the Marines were not considered to be under employer/employee liability at the time of the accident on Puerto Mogan beach. Not just in the military, but in many situations in civilian employment there is often that “grey area” which can surround some accidents at work, or personal injuries, and whether the individuals or managers concerned were “on duty” or “off duty.” Sometimes, despite being on duty, or at work, the exact nature of the situation or environment might similarly call into question whether the employer owed the injured employee a similar duty of care at the time of the accident. Despite having responsibility towards employees at all times – sometimes, that responsibility does not translate in to liability.

That grey are of personal injury law still persists. Vaughan v MoD goes some way into clarifying that very matter. As such, it is a welcome addition to the canon of case law surrounding personal injury and work injury claims. Vaughan v Mod is also useful for personal injury law as it similarly helps to clarify the distinctions between “on duty” and “off duty”.

One phrase that Judge Davis uses or paraphrase several times in his concise verdict is the concept that, for there to be a liability, the Marines (or employees) must have been performing duties “reasonably incidental to their work.” As a benchmark or test, it is s useful phrase. Despite itself being flexible and open to interpretation, “reasonably incidental to their work” does provide some clarity.

It is only too easy to be injured at work, despite all the best precautions, and the liability of employers regarding health and safety at work. Given the flexibility of the modern working environment and workplace, it is also only too easy to receive an injury in a situation where it is uncertain whether an employer still retains that liability along with their responsibility. Vaughan v MoD goes some way into defining where that liability starts and ends.