Home page
Home Page
About this site
Articles
Alerts
Cases
Cases Pending
Contact
Site Updates
Site Map (test)
Warning
Similar Sites
Information for Victims
Research

Latest News

News Roundup

Search

Utilities

Restricted Area
 
 
Hosted by:
Web design
Notition
Helping hands for business
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Miners' claims news links

 

Millions of pounds intended for sick miners and their families instead line the pockets of greedy, immoral and amoral solicitors.

 

Items feature in ascending date order from the top of the page. If links are broken, please let me know as I cache all news posted here and can provide the original article.

 

Breaking news. The Lawyer magazine publishes fascinating May 2007 podcast: Kevan Jones MP, Tom Jones of Thompsons Solicitors and Peter Williamson of the Solicitors Regulation Authority discuss their views on whether solicitors have overstepped the mark by profiting from handling the compensation claims of sick coal miners. Listen online or download in iTunes or mp3 formats.

The Lawyer May 2007 podcast

 

Latest item: 16 March 2008 (foot of page)

 

See also: Main News Navigation

 

Use Ctrl+f to search this page

 

<td width="21%" valign="bottom" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" height="1" style="word-spacing: 0;

News Item

Link

Date Posted

Some data related to the news items below.

The solicitors' firms and sums involved, and other information.

Miners Claims Data

 

John Mann MP - Bassetlaw

John Mann MP

 

 

 

 

Action over double-charging lawyers.

Scores of solicitors have been removed from an approved Government list after failing to respond to calls to refund overpayments to miners involved in health claims, it has been revealed.

I.C. Essex

Link Broken

25 Apr 2004

Anger over advice that MP can hurry miners' payout.

"The handling of these compensation claims by the Department of Trade and Industry has been very poor, with immense delays."

IC Wales

27 Apr 2004

"A landmark legal ruling has opened the way for claims of up

to £1 billion by miners suffering from lung diseases."

BBC File on 4 22 June 2004

Miners deceived on pensions

A financial advisor who took almost £800,000 from the miners' pension fund at Tower Colliery, has been found guilty of deception. Workers who bought Wales' last deep mine employed Colin Stanton to set up a pension scheme, but they found money they expected had disappeared. Stanton was found guilty of four charges of evading liability by deception at Reading Crown Court.

BBC 27 Oct 2004

Lawyers who charged face flood of claims from ex-miners, MP warns

A CAMPAIGNING MP last night warned solicitors who charged for miners' compensation they could face a flood of repayment claims after a Law Society ruling. Bassetlaw Labour MP John Mann said the decision to force Barnsley-based Raleys, official solicitors of the National Union of Mineworkers, to itself pay compensation to a former miner it charged for a vibration white finger claim would set an important precedent.

Yorkshire Post

26 Jan 2005

Scargill's lawyers face being struck off

LAWYERS acting for Arthur Scargill’s union face the threat of being struck off for taking a cut of compensation payouts for sick miners. (Content edited until link restored)

Times (link broken.)

10 Apr 2005

Law firm's payout to 'betrayed' ex-miners

A LAW firm has been forced to pay out over £100,000 to 13 former Yorkshire miners after handling their claims for compensation negligently. Some of the claims against Doncaster solicitors Shaw & Co were prompted by a Yorkshire Post investigation into the Yorkshire Compensation Recovery Service, which referred clients to the firm.

Yorkshire Post

28 Apr 2005

Solicitors who stand to make £100m move up in world

THE senior partners in a firm of South Yorkshire solicitors have been paid almost £30 million for settling thousands of compensation claims on behalf of dead or sick miners.

Times Online

28 Jun 2005

The flying solicitors

Boss of law firm which has made millions from compensation scheme buys private aircraft. THE senior partner in a law firm that makes millions from sick miners’ compensation claims has bought a £1.8 million private aircraft to take him to appointments.

Times Online

29 Jun 2005

Miners' union faces class action over fraud claims

Lawyers are preparing a case for the recovery of millions of pounds of compensation payments. A mining union that has earned millions of pounds in fees from miners’ compensation claims is facing a High Court battle over its actions.

Times Online

30 Jun 2005

Miners' officials to stand down over fraud inquiry

TWO senior officials of a mineworkers’ union who are being investigated by the police over the administration of the world’s largest industrial compensation scheme are to stand down...

"Josh Battle, 27, whose father, John, was the Energy Minister in 1999 when the first of the compensation schemes was set up, has worked since last year as a marketing consultant for the Doncaster law firm Beresfords, which has earned £27.2 million in government fees for settling miners’ claims."

Times Online

01 Jul 2005

Fraud inquiry prompts law firm to repay sick miners


A FIRM of solicitors that handled health claims by former miners has offered to pay its clients every penny deducted from their compensation by a miners’ union that is under police investigation. The decision by Hopkins Solicitors, which could cost the firm up to £100,000, comes after a story in The Times revealing a fraud-squad inquiry into the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).

Times Online

04 Jul 2005

Mining union contract may be suspended during police inquiry

THE Government is considering suspending its contract with a union at the heart of a police probe over the multi-million-pound miners' compensation scheme. The Union of Democratic Mineworkers is under investigation amid claims senior officials have personally benefited from the £7.5bn scheme for sick former miners suffering from chest diseases and vibration white finger.

IC Wales

04 Jul 2005

Miners' lawyers investigated by society

By Andrew Norfolk and Nicola Woolcock

THE Law Society is investigating more than 30 firms of solicitors linked to the Government’s £7.5 billion health scheme for sick and dying miners. The society’s inquiry — its largest into solicitors’ conduct — involves several teams of investigators. Its scale emerged in the High Court yesterday at an extraordinary review of the miners’ scheme after revelations in The Times that a police fraud inquiry had been started into leading officials and employees at the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM).

Times Online

06 Jul 2005

Judge voices concern over pay-out claims

A SENIOR judge yesterday expressed concern about reports that compensation due to miners was instead finding its way to solicitors and other third parties involved in the multi-million pound scheme.
Sir Michael Turner, the judge appointed to manage the litigation, said that there was legitimate public concern that miners' compensation "goes where it is intended to go".

Yorkshire Post

06 Jul 2005

Miners to sue for their money back

A TOP London law firm is offering ex-miners and their relatives the chance to sign up to group legal action against solicitors and claims handlers who have "double charged" them. A packed Harworth meeting hosted by Bassetlaw MP John Mann heard how the big city legal experts plan to take on firms such as the UDM-owned Vendside, who have been charging miners despite getting paid by the Government.

Worksop Today

08 Jul 2005

Miners' fund had no fraud checks

Company running £7bn scheme 'was a sausage machine that churned out compensation'
A COMPANY chosen by the Government to run the world’s largest personal injury compensation scheme — now the subject of a full-scale criminal inquiry — had no systems in place to target and detect fraud, it was revealed last night.

Times Online

11 Jul 2005

Third firm in pit-fund payments
THE scandal surrounding the Government’s £7.5 billion compensation scheme for sick miners deepened yesterday when it emerged that a third firm of solicitors has financial links to a company that is under criminal investigation. Detectives were already looking at payments by two law firms to Indiclaim Ltd, a company owned by Clare Walker, a senior employee of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. It has now been revealed that a third firm, Chesterfield-based BRM Solicitors, agreed to pay money to Indiclaim for every UDM case that it settled.

Times Online

12 Jul 2005

Fraud squad raids home of woman behind £7.5bn scheme for sick miners

THE fraud squad has raided the home of a woman who is at the centre of a police inquiry into a £7.5 billion compensation scheme for sick miners. Detectives arrived outside Clare Walker’s house, which is also the registered address of her company, Indiclaim Ltd, at 7.20am yesterday, climbing over the front gates to gain entrance to the £500,000 property.

Times Online

15 Jul 2005

Coal health compensation review

An independent review is to take place into the administration of coal health compensation schemes for former miners. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced the probe, saying it would not encroach on an ongoing police investigation into potential fraud under the schemes.

BBC

21 Jul 2005

Coal health compensation review

An independent review is to take place into the administration of coal health compensation schemes for former miners. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced the probe, saying it would not encroach on an ongoing police investigation into potential fraud under the schemes.

BBC

21 Jul 2005

Inquiry into £7.5bn scheme for sick miners will check 'integrity' of DTI

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry is to be held into a £7.5 billion government compensation scheme for sick miners, it was announced yesterday. The external review comes after revelations in The Times about the financial relationship between three solicitors’ firms and a miners’ union that has earned several millions of pounds from the scheme.

Times Online

22 Jul 2005

Probe into miners' payouts

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry has been launched into the Government's multi-billion-pound compensation scheme for sick former miners. The external review was ordered after it emerged police are investigating the Union of Democratic Mineworkers amid claims senior officials have personally benefited from the £7.5bn scheme for former miners suffering from chest diseases and Vibration White Finger.

IC Wales

23 Jul 2005

Blunder hands miners' solicitors £5m windfall

Flawed claims contracts leave taxpayers to foot the bill
A GOVERNMENT blunder that will cost taxpayers millions of pounds has been uncovered at the heart of a compensation scheme for sick miners. The error — in a contract governing the world’s largest personal injury compensation scheme — means that solicitors handling thousands of claims are about to earn an unintended £5.2 million bonus.

Times Online

03 Aug 2005

Miners in line for legal aid refund, says minister

MINERS who developed vibration white finger or lung disease as a consequence of their employment are entitled to a refund of any contributions they have made towards legal aid costs.

The Scotsman

26 Aug 2005

'They told me I had to sign or lose my money'

MINERS whose health was shattered by years spent working underground say they feel betrayed by the union they trusted to get them the best deal for their claims.

Times Online

11 Nov 2005

How Scargill's NUM pocketed millions from his sick miners

A firm of solicitors has made a fortune after ex-pitmen were misled over their damages claims.
THOUSANDS of sick miners were misled into handing over millions of pounds to Arthur Scargill’s union by a firm of solicitors that has earned a fortune from their compensation claims, an investigation has revealed.

Times Online

11 Nov 2005

Police raid union HQ in claims fraud probe

FRAUD squad detectives this week raided the headquarters of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) as part of the police investigation into the miners' compensation scheme. The union's HQ in Mansfield and six other premises in the area were searched by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the raids which took place early on Tuesday morning.

Worksop Today

19 Nov 2005

Call for legal refund to miners

A Labour MP is calling on legal firms who have charged miners for compensation work to refund the money. Bassetlaw MP John Mann said he has had almost 1,500 complaints from miners in his constituency alone about legal firms charging "twice" for their work.

BBC

21 Nov 2005

'Greedy' lawyers to repay victims

Inquiries that followed The Times
The Serious Fraud Squad
The Department of Trade Industry
The Law Society

SOME of the country’s most successful law firms, which grew rich by exploiting sick miners, were told by the Government last night to repay more than £50 million that they “outrageously” sliced from their clients’ compensation. See also: Schemes & Scams at The Times Online

Times Online

16 Dec 2005

Solicitors urged to refund miners

Solicitors who charged miners for "free" compensation advice are being urged to pay the money back.

BBC

17 Dec 2005

Prescott backs campaign to pay sick miners in full

JOHN PRESCOTT has thrown his support behind a campaign to gain justice for sick miners who were exploited by solicitors involved in a £7.5 billion government compensation scheme. The Deputy Prime Minister is among a group of MPs and peers who have joined forces to condemn law firms that grew rich by deducting money from payments made to elderly pitmen suffering from chronic chest diseases.

Times Online

19 Jan 2006

Law Society urges solicitors to refund miners

SOLICITORS are being urged by their regulatory body to repay millions of pounds that they deducted from compensation awards for sick miners. In an unprecedented move, the Law Society has written to the senior partners of more than 500 firms in England and Wales highlighting the damage that their greed has caused to the profession. The letter says that the coal health claims scandal, exposed by The Times last year, has severely dented public confidence in solicitors.

Times Online (main paper)

28 Feb 2006

Law Society comes down hard on miners' solicitors

Solicitors are accused of reaping extra fees in compensation cases.
SOLICITORS who exploited sick miners by charging them extra fees for handling compensation claims are facing a fresh crackdown this week by their professional body. In all, the Law Society of England and Wales has received about 1,000 complaints from miners about solicitors who pocketed extra fees while handling their claims for chronic chest diseases; and it is investigating 35 law firms over possible misconduct.

Times Online (law)

28 Feb 2006

Miners 'let down' by Law Society on payouts for sickness

SICK miners who complained about solicitors taking a slice of money from their compensation awards were “badly let down” by the Law Society, the legal services ombudsman ruled yesterday. In a scathing attack on its handling of complaints by miners and their families, the ombudsman cited numerous failings by the society, which is the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales.

Times Online

04 Apr 2006

Greedy lawyers sliced £9,000 from widow's compensation

ALBERT LEADBEATER’S lungs were ruined by coal dust. The Yorkshire miner died in 1988, aged 65. Fifteen years later his widow, Gladys, received compensation from British Coal for the chronic respiratory disease that killed him. Although she was awarded damages of £51,616, she received only £42,625 because her solicitors deducted 15 per cent as a “success fee”.

Times Online

05 Apr 2006

Law Society probe 'failed miners'

The Law Society has failed to properly investigate miners' complaints against solicitors taking fees from their compensation, according to a report. Law firms made claims for Vibration White Finger or Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on behalf of miners from a government funded compensation scheme.

BBC see also:

Yorkshire Post

05 Apr 2006

A LEGAL watchdog has been criticised for failing to properly investigate solicitors who charged fees from miners' compensation payments.

Legal Service Ombudsman Zahida Manzoor says the Law Society 'badly let down' complainants by failing to conduct full and comprehensive investigations into their cases. The ombudsman's inquiry was launched after Warsop MP John Mann wrote to Ms Manzoor –– and this week he hailed the findings as further proof that solicitors should repay such fees immediately if they want to avoid paying further compensation.

Ashfield Today

12 Apr 2006

Gravy train keeps rolling for the firm paid £73m – so far

SICK miners have been a goldmine to a South Yorkshire solicitors’ firm.

Beresfords, based in Doncaster, has been paid £73 million by the Government for handling industrial disease claims by tens of thousands of colliery workers. This has helped Jim Beresford, the senior partner, and Doug Smith to become multimillionaires. Mr Beresford, 55, and his wife, Linda, 54, invested £1.8 million last year on a private jet and have spent heavily on improvements to their home in Linton, near Wetherby.

Times Online

19 Apr 2006

Tale of two miners
Ailing pitmen have been let down by those claiming to offer help.

Times Online

19 Apr 2006

Thousands of ailing miners pay the price for lawyers' secret deal

A law firm's deal with a mining union on settling hearing-loss claims has cost the men their damages while solicitors have made millions. THOUSANDS of miners whose hearing was damaged by years of heavy industrial work have been denied their full compensation because of the dubious conduct of the solicitors handling their claims.

Times Online

19 Apr 2006

Law firms' contempt for solicitors who take miners' money

A LAW firm has publicly resigned from the group of solicitors fighting to win compensation for sick miners in protest at the widespread practice of taking a slice from their damages in addition to claiming fees from the Government. Towells, which has represented thousands of miners without deducting a penny from their compensation, says that its resignation is an expression of its contempt for the conduct of fellow solicitors.

Times Online

20 Apr 2006

The art of sticking it to your client

Perhaps the lawyer with a conscience is not a mere Hollywood myth. David Russell, the senior partner at Towells, a Wakefield firm, astonished many in the profession last week with the announcement that his firm was resigning from a group of solicitors fighting to win compensation for sick miners.

Times Online

25 Apr 2006

ANGER AT SLOW DEAL FOR MINERS

MINERS are still waiting for justice in the scandal of solicitors who cashed in on their compensation. It was revealed yesterday that not one of the 45 cases referred to the Law Society since March last year has been dealt with. Alan Cummings, a former mineworkers union lodge secretary, said: "It beggars belief that the society is not dealing with this more quickly."

Mirror

02 May 2006

Unforgivable

The latest details to emerge in the miners’ compensation scandal rightly will prompt more outrage from the pitmen who have too often forfeited part of their compensation to solicitors. And it should prompt concern from taxpayers who have funded a disastrously inept scheme to recompense them for their suffering. The plight of miners should also bring urgency to the Law Society’s efforts to hold to account those who have exploited their injured clients. Those efforts have so far proved inadequate

Times Online

15 May 2006

'It was an absolute insult. I would rather someone had spat at me'

THE family of the late David Cowan thought that his 48 years down the pit were worth a little bit more than £7.13. His country was still fighting the First World War when Mr Cowan, from Fife, left school to become a miner at the age of 14. He retired in 1965 and died, his health broken, ten years later.

Times Online

15 May 2006

Family of dead miner offered £7 as lawyers earn £41m

THOUSANDS of miners with chronic chest disease have been paid less than £100 in compensation under a programme that earned their solicitors 20 times as much per case. Newly released details of the £7.5 billion scheme, the largest in the world, expose the way in which public money has benefited law firms far more generously than pitmen and their families.

Times Online

15 May 2006

Top union adviser faces probe on miner fee claims

Thompsons has been dragged into the row over compensation for sick miners, with the top trade union adviser this week admitting it was being investigated by the Law Society, while new figures revealed the firm had received £83.7m in public money. The firm conceded that it was facing investigation by Chancery Lane for its role in advising thousands of sick miners in the £7bn Government-backed compensation scheme.

Legal Week

18 May 2006

Coal Miners who lost money in DTI compensation scheme to appeal

Coal miners' claims for unlawful deductions from compensation awards to be referred to the Court of Appeal
19 May 2006 - Press Dispensary - Solicitors acting for miners who are claiming back very significant amounts deducted by trade unions and solicitors are taking the matter to the Court of Appeal. This follows the decision - made in court yesterday by Sir Michael Turner - to dismiss the application for a Group Litigation Order which would have enabled miners collectively to litigate against the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM), Vendside and certain solicitors for the recovery of deductions made in respect of settled coal mine claims, with costs. Mr Edwards from Greene Wood & McLean LLP, the solicitors who represented the coal miner applicants, said today: "With due respect to Sir Michael we believe that his judgment is wrong and that the Court of Appeal will make a Group Litigation Order." (This press centre is provided for Greene Wood & McLean LLP by
Press Dispensary) To view full text, use link, right.

Press Dispensary

19 May 2006

Miners' pay out case thrown out

An MP has insisted the fight will continue to recover money owed to miners who were wrongly charged fees when they claimed compensation. A miners group had taken claims company Vendside - part of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers - to court over allegedly unfair legal fee charges. The case was called "unnecessary" by a High Court judge and thrown out. But MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann, said while he was disappointed, individual claims would go ahead.

BBC

20 May 2006

High Court Victory for Vendside and the UDM

Sick and dying miners could face huge legal bills after an “unnecessary” application supported by the Action Group for Miners (AGM) against compensation claim handling company, Vendside, was thrown out by the High Court today. Judge Sir Michael Turner said that the application, backed by the AGM and John Mann MP, for a Group Litigation Order was “a gross abuse of the system” and “doomed from the start”. (Link to judgement text: Bailii)

Press Dispensary

22 May 2006

Shock as sick miners lose court case

A HIGH Court judge has said failed legal action by a group of miners was 'doomed from the start'.
The Action Group for Miners (AGM) had taken claims company Vendside – which is part of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) – to court over alleged unfair legal fee charges. But Judge Sir Michael Turner found that the application for a Group Litigation Order against Vendside was a 'gross abuse of the system'. The defeat for AGM could prove costly, with miners and their families possibly facing a legal bill of more than £1 million.

Worksop Today

26 May 2006

Solicitors guilty of misleading miners must repay millions

SOLICITORS who misled thousands of sick miners into paying millions of pounds to Arthur Scargill’s union have been ordered to hand back the money. The ruling came after lawyers from the Yorkshire-based Raleys appeared before the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal to challenge a Law Society decision that the firm had provided an inadequate service to its clients. (UJ is currently looking into a possible redaction to this article.21 June 2006. Redacted article appears here:

Times Online redaction, yet the page title remains unchanged.

UJ has tried to contact The Times in this regard, but the e-mail inboxes are so full that no new messages can be accepted. 22 June 2006

Times Online

02 Jun 2006

Ex-miners could lose homes after UDM victoryA FAILED court action against the Mansfield-based Union of Democratic Mineworkers could cost 65 former miners their homes, it has emerged this week. UDM boss Neil Greatrex told Chad yesterday he had no choice but to pursue the ex-miners for the costs –– which total at least £600,000 for the union and another £600,000 for five associated solicitors' firms. The union has asked High Court Judge Sir Michael Turner to force London solicitors Greene Wood & Mclean –– who led the court battle –– into paying the costs, although a decision is not expected on this before September.

Ashfield Today

05 Jul 2006

Warsop MP goes head to head with UDM boss on BBC television show

SPARKS flew between UDM president Neil Greatrex and Warsop MP John Mann on Sunday when the pair clashed over miners' compensation claims on BBC1's Politics Show. During the heated debate, Mr Mann accused the union boss of holding a 'reign of terror' over 65 former pitmen who recently lost a court battle against the UDM and now face costs of up to £1.2m.

Mansfield Today

19 Jul 2006

MPs hit out at Watson Burton over miner claims

Eighty-one MPs have signed an early-day motion condemning Watson Burton's handling of the controversial miners' compensation scheme and have called for the firm to refund compensation money to the miners. The motion slates the firm for "colluding" with claims firm PR & Associates (PRA) and for deducting the money, which was directed to PRA from the coal mining disease victims' compensation scheme.

The Lawyer

30 Oct 2006

No threat to miners' homes after failure of legal action

FORMER miners whose homes were under threat after failed legal action against a union have been told they will not be forced to sell up. Earlier this year a group of miners, backed up by a London law firm, challenged the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) and their claims firm Vendside in the High Court over fees that were deducted from compensation payouts. But the judge threw out the case and Vendside sought to claim their legal fees – which ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds – back from the miners. Vendside instructed their solicitors, Leeds-based Brooke North LLP, to secure charging orders against the homes of the miners, essentially meaning that Vendside could apply to sell the homes of former miners and their families. Those legal fees have now been taken care of by the miners' original lawyers, it has been confirmed, and one of the ptimen involved this week spoke of his relief that the affair was over

Worksop Today

10 Nov 2006

Legal firms criticised over miners' payouts

SOUTH Yorkshire law firms have been named and shamed by a peer who accuses them of exploiting former miners seeking compensation for illnesses. Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract named Beresfords Solicitors of Doncaster, Oxley and Coward of Rotherham, Raleys of Barnsley and Wake Smith and Ashton Morton Slack of Sheffield ,accusing them of cashing in on the scheme. He said the Government scheme, which gives money to those who suffered ill health as a result of the coal industry, had provided a "jackpot win" for legal firms. Some firms are unfairly claiming costs on top of the millions they have already received from the Government for handling the compensation claims for conditions such as chest disease, vibration white finger and deafness, he said.

Sheffield Today

29 Nov 2006

'Slow progress’ on coal health investigation.

Some solicitors facing disciplinary hearings over the coal health compensation scheme are deploying a ‘very aggressive’ approach – including in some cases threats to sue Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) staff personally – the government was told last week. In a letter to Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) minister Bridget Prentice, sent ahead of a meeting last week to discuss the issue, SRA board chairman Peter Williamson conceded that ‘the complexity of the cases, coupled with the aggressive defences being mounted, means that progress has not been as fast as we had wished’.

Law Society Gazette

02 Mar 2007

Miners’ lawyer made £45,000 a day

A solicitor whose firm specialises in compensation claims for sick miners made a personal profit of £16.8 million in one year. Jim Beresford is the senior partner in Beresfords, a firm in Doncaster which registered more than 90,000 claims under the Government-run scheme. He is named today as Britain’s highest-earning solicitor. Tens of thousands of former miners whose health was damaged by their years of work underground have received awards of less than £1,000. More than 15,000 claimants died before they received any money, yet in 2005, when the scheme was running at its peak, 56-year-old Mr Beresford grew richer at a rate of £45,892 every day.

Times Online

10 Apr 2007

Firms net more than £1bn from sick miners' claims

The British Coal compensation saga has seen lawyers scoop more than £800m of taxpayers’ money in legal costs by handling the claims of the sick coalminers, The Lawyer can reveal. Figures released by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) show that just 30 firms shared a pot of £797.9m for litigation over respiratory disease and vibration white finger alone. One DTI insider said the amount paid out to lawyers in legal fees had “in reality surpassed the billion-pound mark” if all the fees from “the scores of law firms” are totalled and other claims by miners, such as hearing loss, are taken into account. The suffering of the coalminers has been a goldmine for Doncaster-based three-partner personal injury (PI) boutique Beresfords Solicitors in particular. Beresfords was paid £97.8m from the world’s largest-ever PI compensation scheme, which started at the turn of the century, putting it second in the table to Thompsons, which made £106.4m. It has helped Beresfords senior partner Jim Beresford and his daughter Esta, who is also a partner, become multimillionaires.

The Lawyer

See also:

The Lawyer - "Greedy firms slammed..."

10 Apr 2007

Laywers pocket £250m

Six Tyneside law firms have pocketed more than £250m from taxpayers' cash pursuing miners' compensation claims, the Chronicle can reveal. One firm, Thompsons, received more than £100m, while an average payout for miners in the North East is less than £5,000. North Durham MP Kevan Jones described it as "an appalling feeding frenzy for lawyers". And the family of one victim branded the size of legal costs "disgusting".

IC Newcastle

12 Apr 2007

Lawyers who made a fortune from miners’ claims must repay millions

Solicitors have been ordered to pay back tens of millions of pounds from the profits they made by handling compensation claims for sick miners. The clawback, which will save the Government an estimated £100 million, comes after a High Court ruling that lawyers have been paid too much for processing claims. Some law firms that grew rich on the proceeds of the £7.5 billion scheme, set up to compensate miners with chronic chest disease, face a loss of several million pounds. The judgment by Mrs Justice Swift represents a significant victory for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which has responsibility for the liabilities of the former British Coal.

Times Online

16 Apr 2007

Miners' compensation 'exploited'

A scheme for sick miners in England and Wales has been exploited by a few unscrupulous solicitors, a report says. The fund was meant to distribute £3.4bn compensation to 760,000 former British Coal workers many who had suffered serious injuries. But Lord Lofthouse, a Labour peer, says at least two law firms have made £100m from the scheme, while miners have had their pay-outs reduced by legal fees. His report on compensation is being handed to the prime minister later..."I've spent a lot of time over this last 30 years, I presented five bills in the House of Commons on this subject. I haven't worked all these years to fill the pockets of greedy solicitors."

BBC

24 Apr 2007

Sick miners lose 'millions' to solicitors

Millions of pounds earmarked to help sick miners has been siphoned off by unscrupulous solicitors, a report has claimed. The £3.4bn compensation scheme was set up to support 760,000 former British Coal workers, many of whom had suffered chronic lung disease and other injuries as a result of working in the pits. Today, Lord Lofthouse, an ex-Labour peer, will show a report to Government which claims solicitors handling the compensation have exploited the scheme.

Telegraph

25 Apr 2007

'Shame lawyers into repaying miners'

Law firms, who made millions from compensation funds set up to look after sick miners, must be shamed into returning it, according to Labour peer Lord Lofthouse. Lawyers took money from miners’ pay-outs despite having their fees paid directly by the Government. Lord Lofthouse will hand a report on the double-charging to Downing Street today and call for the guilty solicitors to be named and shamed. The peer says at least two firms have made £100 million from sick miners' cases and yet he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “They haven’t been satisfied with that, they’ve been taking money out of miners’compensation.” “I think it is appalling,” he said, suggesting each solicitor involved should be named “so we can take it up with the Law Society or the individual solicitors and hope they will be so shamed that they pay the money back”.

Times Online

25 Apr 2007

IT 'S MINE ALL MINE!

EXCLUSIVE EXPOSED: 'Immoral' charges creamed off struggling pit men's payouts Lawyer who gets millions and can swan around in his private jet.. all thanks to sick miners on a pittance
By Henry Austin
THE People today exposes the incredible luxury lifestyle of a lawyer who has made millions from the misery of desperately ill ex-miners. Jim Beresford, Britain's highest earning solicitor, helped cream off cash from pitmen's compensation - a practice branded "immoral" by a peer last week. The fat-cat legal boss made an astonishing £16.75MILLION in a single year. That works out at £45,890 A DAY- most of it from handling the claims of miners whose health was ruined working underground.

The People

29 Apr 2007

Blair forced to launch inquiry into miners' compensation scandal

The Government has been pressurised into launching an investigation into law firms allegedly exploiting sick miners under the coalminers' compensation scheme. Labour peer Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract's final report on the conduct of firms handling claims under the compensation scheme lambasts them as "greedy lawyers" and has led to a Government inquiry. In his report, which was presented to Tony Blair last Wednesday (25 April), Lofthouse alleges that law firms have been "double-charging" and siphoning money from miners' compensation. As The Lawyer revealed (9 April), the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) paid out more than £800m to 30 law firms for handling claims for coalminers who have suffered from respiratory diseases and vibration white finger.

The Lawyer

30 Apr 2007

LCS to approach thousands of miners over fees

The Legal Complaints Service (LCS) is to canvas thousands of former miners directly to determine whether solicitors wrongly deducted fees from their compensation claims. The LCS will write to claimants who suffered serious chest disease and vibration white-finger injuries, asking if they received poor service from their solicitor and offering to help recover fees if appropriate. The government launched the compensation scheme, the biggest of its kind worldwide, in 1999. To date, £3.4 billion has been paid out in more than 760,000 claims. However, the scheme became mired in controversy after it emerged that some solicitors had deducted fees from miners’ awards – for mining unions or themselves – despite the fact the government had already paid solicitors’ costs.
LCS chief executive Deborah Evans said directly contacting claimants was a proactive move that would have been inconceivable when the LCS was still the complaints-handling arm of the Law Society.

Law Society Gazette

04 May 2007

Promise to sick miners

COPELAND MP Jamie Reed is vowing to ensure Cumbrians suffering from working in the mines get their deserved compensation. A damning report last week said the scheme for sick miners, which could include many from Cumbria, has been exploited by a few unscrupulous solicitors. The fund was meant to distribute £3.4bn compensation to 760,000 former British Coal workers, many who had suffered serious injuries. But Labour peer Lord Lofthouse said while miners have had their pay-outs reduced by legal fees, at least two legal firms had pocketed more than £100m from the scheme. It is thought a lot of cash was swindled after double charging, where legal fees are taken from the government and then deducted from individual’s compensation payouts. Mr Reed said: “I find it grotesque that these people have been able to generate so much money for their business, by in effect trading on the vulnerability of former miners and their families.”

North West Evening Mail

09 May 2007

Miners’ firms strike back at DTI over £2.4bn costs

The under-fire law firms representing sick miners in the British Coal compensation fiasco have accused the Government of hypocrisy after its costs topped £2bn. The Lawyer can reveal that costs for the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) are expected to reach £2.4bn once the compensation scheme ends. More than 200,000 claims are still waiting to be processed. The Government’s defence of the 780,000 sick miners’ cases means taxpayers forked out more than £1bn in addition to that paid out to the claimants’ solicitors, which The Lawyer revealed was around £800m (9 April).
A partner at one of the firms representing the miners said the DTI’s costs “warrants a serious explanation” and that “the DTI’s inquiry into our actions is seriously duplicitous considering the amount of taxpayers’ money it’s wasting”.

The Lawyer

14 May 2007

Solicitors condemned for 'shameful' fee deals

GREEDY lawyers who have been double-paid for representing chronically sick former miners are not "untouchable", a minister has warned. Science minister Malcolm Wicks condemned rogue solicitors as he announced the launch of an information campaign in the Rother Valley to help claimants understand their rights better. The minister pledged action following a recent damning report by former miner Lord Lofthouse, who said law firms who double charged should be shamed into returning fees they had deducted from compensation payouts. Mr Wicks launched a furious assault on such lawyers, branding their behaviour “shameful”. The compensation scheme has distributed more than £3 billion to 760,000 former British Coal workers..But former Labour MP Lord Lofthouse said some solicitors have made vast sums by also deducting money from the compensation payouts.

Sheffield Today

30 May 2007

Beresfords refutes fee deduction claims

The Chief Executive of Beresfords solicitors has spoken out against claims that the firm unlawfully deducted fees from miners’ compensation
Mark Farrell, Chief Executive, said: “In 1999 the Government set up the world’s biggest ever compensation scheme to support former British Coal miners who had suffered chronic lung disease and vibration white finger as a result of working in the pits. “Beresfords has been proud to represent more miners and/or their families in their fight to receive compensation than any other solicitor in the UK. “However the factually inaccurate information that has recently appeared in the media regarding this scheme has been very damaging to the legal profession as a whole and to the particular firms named. “Beresfords has been featured in a number of inaccurate articles regarding the scheme which are very damaging to the reputation of the company and naturally we view the matter extremely seriously. “To set the record straight, we would like to clarify that Beresfords has acted wholly in accordance with the DTI scheme as overseen by the Courts. We have received payment of our fee from the Government and we have not deducted our fee from the compensation of miners. “We can categorically state that Beresfords do not profit by retaining any monies from compensation due to the miner and/or his family.

Legal & Medical

01 Jun 2007

LCS pushes forward miners' union compensation payback initiative

The Legal Complaints Service (LCS) has cut a deal with one coalminers' union that is offering refunds to thousands of sick miners embroiled in the British Coal compensation saga. Deborah Evans, LCS chief executive, said her organisation is actively pursuing complaints where deductions have been made from compensation awards by lawyers, trade unions or other parties. Evans said: "We welcome this initiative by the Durham Miners' Association [DMA] to offer a refund of deductions to its members and would encourage others to approach their clients and give them the same opportunity." The DMA has come to an arrangement that entitles 10,000 of its members to claw back contributions they made to the union's legal fighting fund.

The Lawyer

04 Jun 2007

Cost of coal almost paid

Just three-quarters of Wigan's sick ex-miners have been compensated for work-related health problems – 14 years after the last pit closed. So far the world's biggest industrial injury payment scheme has paid more than £72m to thousands of former colliers across the borough, figures released today show. And National Health Service minister and Leigh MP Andy Burnham has welcomed the Government's pledge to ensure that the remaining 1,200 claims are settled over the next year at the latest. There are around 13,000 claimants across the former Wigan (NCB Western Area) coalfield...And miners and their dependents who fear they have missed out on money that has been claimed by their lawyers should contact Mr Burnham at his office. He will help them submit claims to the Law Society for the cash to be repaid. For further details, call Mr Burnham's office on 01942 248958

Wigan Today

12 Jun 2007

Law Soc council member fined over miners' compensation

A Law Society council member has admitted to five breaches of professional rules in relation to his dealing with the coalminers’ compensation scheme. Glyn Maddocks, council member for the West Country and Gwent and a partner at Welsh firm Gabb and Co, was fined £15,000 at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) and ordered to pay the costs, estimated to be £60,000. The SDT fined him the maximum £5,000 on one charge as he failed to recognise a conflict of interests between the firm and its clients as a result of his relationship with the claim farmers IDC. Other breaches included his firm paying unlawful referral fees. In addition Maddocks' firm has been ordered to repay around £160,000 to sick miners caught up in the British Coal compensation scheme saga, following the hearing this week. Gabb and Co agreed to repay the money that had been deducted from miners' damages and paid instead to IDC, an amount of less than £100 per claimant. The tribunal was told Gabb and Co had bought the miners' cases from IDC and had paid them over £110,000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which brought the proceedings, said the successful outcome sends a message that the authority is determined to see these cases through in the interests of miners. It is the third successful case the SRA has brought, with at least 14 more to come.

The Lawyer

29 Jun 2007

Law Society to pay £100,000 to miners

The Law Society will pay out up to £100,000 to sick miners after their law firms provided inadequate professional services in relation to the British Coal compensation scheme. The society has taken the extraordinary step after one or two solicitors firms deferred paying the miners until after their hearings before the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). Under the present rules awards only become enforceable after the matter has been referred to the SDT and the tribunal has ordered the solicitors to pay.

The Lawyer

12 Jul 2007

Red tape cost more than sick miners got in compensation

Almost 300,000 miners with a disabling chest disease have received less money in compensation than it cost the Government to administer their claim, a report discloses today. “Significant weaknesses” in the Department of Trade and Industry’s handling of the world’s largest personal injury scheme are identified in the report, published by the National Audit Office (NAO). They led to long delays before many elderly and infirm miners received any money, but proved to be lucrative for solicitors’ firms, which grew rich by bulk-processing tens of thousands of claims.

Times Online

18 Jul 2007

Correction

"Some of our more eagle-eyed readers might have spotted a mistake in the July issue of Legal & Medical..The article on page 17, entitled The Money Pit, ended rather abruptly. We apologise for this – please find the whole article reprinted in full."

The money pit
Matt Stanley picks through the issues exposed by Lord Lofthouse’s report on the coal health compensation scheme..“I am of the firm opinion that the British Coal litigation evidences regulatory ineptitude on a scale the like of which has never been seen before in this country.” So states Lord Lofthouse’s April 2007 report to the Lords, which is also frank in its naming of “double-charging” solicitors and blistering in its accusation that nothing has been done to review the Law Society’s handling of the original cases.

Legal & Medical

19 Jul 2007

Miners win pay-out

Miners who had compensation money withheld by solicitors have won a major victory against the lawyers. A legal watchdog has stepped into the row over unauthorised deductions from the pay-outs and will now settle the claims, then seek to recover money from solicitors. But, despite the landmark decision by the Law Society's Legal Complaints Service, thousands of pounds is still owed to families in Leigh and MP Andy Burnham is urging people to come forward and make a claim. Overall, 5,044 claims for compensation from the Government's Coal Health Compensation Scheme were lodged by families in the Leigh but Mr Burnham's office has only logged around 150 complaints. Mr Burnham said: "It sickens me that others have sought to make money on the back of the compensation scheme and take money without permission." Anyone who wants the Legal Complaints Service to investigate can contact Mr Burnham's office on 01942 682353

Wigan Today

21 Aug 2007

Advance payments for sick miners

AROUND 30 ex-miners in the North Nottinghamshire area have been awarded advanced payments in an 'unprecedented' move by the Law Society. The former pit workers claim they are owed money because solicitors firms deducted fees from their compensation payouts for ill health.

Mansfield Chad

17 Sep 2007

Solicitors make millions from sick miners' claims

Beresfords, a tiny firm of solicitors in Doncaster, has received £123m from the taxpayer by winning compensation claims on behalf of coal miners for work-related diseases, new government figures show. The head of the firm, Jim Beresford, had a personal salary of £16.7m in 2006 and two partners - one of whom was his daughter Esta - shared a further £3.7m between them last year...Beresfords is just one law firm that has transformed its fortunes through the government-backed compensation schemes. But the schemes have also led to many partners facing the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in what has become the biggest single-issue set of cases handled by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Other solicitors to benefit from the compensation schemes include Thompsons, which made £131m, Raleys, of Barnsley, with £77m, and Watson Burton, which received £32m.

Guardian

14 Oct 2007

Bill to regulate solicitors ‘risks another miners’ compensation fiasco’

Plans for a shake-up of the legal profession, to be debated by MPs today, could lead to another fiasco like the miners’ compensation scheme, because trade unions would be exempt from consumer safeguards, Conservative MPs say. The Legal Services Bill, which creates a new regulatory framework for lawyers, will not cover trade unions who give legal advice. Jonathan Djanogly, the Tory justice spokesman, said: “The Government has agreed to exempt trade unions from its own legislation designed to protect consumers from receiving poor or unscrupulous legal advice. “This will mean that trade unions’ own members cannot be assured that the legal advice they receive is up to standard...By the Law Society’s own estimate, there may be 150,000 dubious cases relating to the miners’ compensation, in which the Government spent an estimated £7.5 billion paying damages to former miners suffering from chronic respiratory disease or a crippling hand condition as a direct result of their work in the coal industry. Numerous solicitors’ firms, which took part in what has become the world’s largest personal injury compensation scheme, were accused of taking a slice of money from the sick miners’ compensation. Some trade unions became rich on the proceeds, taking payment for referring claimants.

Times Online

14 Oct 2007

Government finally apologises over miners' compensation delays

THE families of sick ex-miners who died before receiving compensation because of scandalous delays today finally received a government apology. Sir Brian Bender, the senior civil servant in charge of the compensation scheme, owned up to weaknesses that have forced former pitmen to wait years for their money. In evidence to a committee of MPs, Sir Brian said: "Can I begin by apologising to former miners, and their families, that many people have had to wait so long."...And confronted with evidence that 60 per cent of payouts are lower than the cost of administering those claims, Sir Brian admitted: "The lawyers have done well out of it."

Northern Echo

23 Oct 2007

Watson Burton wins multi-million pound miners' victory

Leeds firm Watson Burton has scored a multi-million pound Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision for miners against Britain’s largest producer of coal UK Coal. The firm, acting for the British Association of Colliery Management (BACM), which brought the original claim with the National Union of Mineworkers, is expecting the decision could cost UK Coal £2.5m and reward employees who lost their jobs 90 days pay. UK Coal, which is one of the companies born from the Government privatising British Coal, in January 2005 announced the closure of Northumberland’s last deep mine Ellington Colliery making the 350-strong workforce redundant.

The Lawyer

24 Oct 2007

Miners hit by compensation failures

Sick miners and their families are losing out on compensation they are entitled to because of administrative failures, according to a critical report by Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor. Manzoor's second investigation into the British Coal compensation schemes for respiratory diseases and vibration white finger found that the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) had given "poor service" to some miners and their families. The report claims that the LCS is, as a result, at risk of damaging its reputation. It warns that miners' complaints could become an "Achilles heel" for the LCS if it did not act on Manzoor's proposals, such as good management and administrative checks and balances. The findings showed that the compensation miners received depended on a "bewildering array" of variables including whether a Member of Parliament was involved, the LCS caseworker handling the complaint and the cooperation of the solicitor's firm being complained about. Manzoor said: "The LCS side-stepped a recommendation from my first investigation in 2006 to revisit complaints that had not been investigated fully by insisting improvements had already been made. These new findings show that some of the same issues are still to be addressed."

The Lawyer

15 Jan 2008

Solicitors again criticised over miners' compensation

A NUMBER of former Nottinghamshire miners could be in line for further payouts after an ombudsman's report into how compensation complaints were handled. The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor has published a special report into how the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) dealt with objections from sick miners about fees they were charged by solicitors. She is critical that some miners suffered distress or inconvenience but did not receive any compensation for this and said those that did not should have their cases reopened, along with those who did not receive a full refund of fees. Warsop MP John Mann has been fighting to win back money for miners suffering from Vibration White Finger and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which solicitors have wrongly deducted and welcomed the report.

Mansfield Chad

17 Jan 2008

Court ruling shatters hopes of compensation, says lawyer

Roger Maddocks, partner and industrial disease specialist at Newcastle personal injury law firm Irwin Mitchell, says aspects of the way the Government handles the British Coal VWF Claims Handling Arrangement have meant scores of former miners, many elderly, in the north east are missing out on compensation. Mr Maddocks said many former miners who have had their claims rejected dispute that their claims have been properly considered and subsequently turned down by the Government's claims handlers, Capita, who have assumed the role of judge and jury on the claims. They were hoping that they could turn to the courts to resolve the disputes, but this is being blocked by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The issue had been taken to the High Court which this week said individuals' disputed claims for compensation under the CHA could not be resolved in the courts. Instead, VWF sufferers who have had their claims rejected partially or in total under the CHA will have to mount their own civil cases outside the CHA for any part of the claim they wish to purse – basically this means starting afresh, nine years after the CHA was set up.