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Asons Solicitors
Experts in Personal Injury, Industrial Disease and Medical Negligence Claims.
Experts in Personal Injury, Industrial Disease and Medical Negligence Claims.

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Asons promotes Asim Majid to Holiday Illness Claims Manager

Asim Majid, Asons’ new Holiday Illness Claims Manager, joined Asons back in January 2013 as a fee earner, before being promoted, after only eight months, to the position of industrial disease manager, running a team that handles pre and post-litigation cases. He has also completed his legal training contract, the final two year route to become a fully qualified solicitor, just this month. This means he has spent 3.5 years in leadership within the firm, making him the practice’s longest serving manager.

Asim plans to build a thriving team and sustainable department, with plans in place to grow the department significantly in upcoming months and recruit further highly motivated and skilled individuals. He hopes to continue providing quality client care and ensure the claims process is as simple as possible for each client. “Looking at Asons Solicitors success in the industrial disease department, I want to replicate this and allow us to become the market leaders within holiday sickness claims.”

Commenting further on his new role as Holiday Illness Claims Manager, Asim said:

"It’s a great opportunity and I am thankful to Asons for considering me yet again to lead a department. This is a big responsibility and its feels good that I am in a position to lead other people and that I can also build an excellent relationship with other members within the firm. Holiday illness is a hot topic in the legal industry right now, and I am delighted that I was selected to manage a team of fee earners running these claims."

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NEW BLOG: Tinnitus Awareness Week 6 - 12 February 2017

The annual awareness event Tinnitus Awareness Week (TAW) takes place this coming week, 6 – 12 February. This year’s campaign is called ‘Together for Tinnitus’ and its aim is to encourage debate about this noise-induced hearing condition and increase awareness of the work of support services such as those offered by organisations such as the British Tinnitus Association, various NHS trusts and the British Society of Audiology.

Tinnitus is the common term for sustained ringing sounds that can be heard within the ears, often as a result of hearing damage caused by exterior sources, such as loud noise. This can be as a result of anything from working in industrial situations with heavy machinery to recreational occasions such as a rock gig.

The local hospital for Asons Solicitors, Royal Bolton Hospital, sees more than 300 new tinnitus patients every year. The specialist staff there provide assessments and then offer coping strategies and advice. If you want medical help with tinnitus, contact your GP and ask to be referred on to your local hospital.

The British Tinnitus Association are launching an official ‘Tinnitus Guidance for GPs’ document which will provide GP’s with the most up-to-date information on how people affected by tinnitus can best be helped from diagnosis through to self-help management of the condition. The charity also has a new online resource for people who have recently realised they are sufferers and have just been diagnosed with tinnitus. provides facts and ideas that advise on management of tinnitus. Doctors could find it to be an ideal resource for passing on to their new tinnitus patients.

If you want to get involved in the conversation about Tinnitus Awareness Week on Twitter, use the hashtag #TAW2017 so that your relevant tweets can be found or use it yourself in a search.

If you’re aware that you suffer with tinnitus and believe that your current or former workplace is responsible, you can make a enquire about making a claim for noise induced hearing loss. You might have a legal case for becoming a victim of industrial disease if an employer did not provide you with suitable hearing protection or take steps to minimise the effects of high volumes on you.

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NEW BLOG: May & Hammond Discuss Post-Brexit Immigration at Davos

British Prime Minister Theresa May has hinted that the British government might still grant Europeans some kind of preferential post-Brexit immigration status after Britain’s passage through the process of leaving the EU.

In an interview yesterday (Thursday 19 January) with ITV News, Mrs May refused to conform or deny whether EU citizens would have greater access to the UK over non-EU citizens. It has been the expectation of many Brexiteers that the playing field for entry to the UK would become level for both EU and non-EU citizens, with all foreigners having to make a visa application before entering the UK, regardless of nationality.

Speaking to ITV News during her short stay in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, the prime minister emphasised that rather than allow post-Brexit immigration matters to be governed by EU rules, that the UK should “have a system where the British government makes those decisions”.

Mrs May was much keener to focus on trade, angling for as beneficial a free trade agreement as possible. Detractors have pointed out the obvious in that European leaders expect free movement of citizens and free trade without tariffs to go hand-in-hand.

The deal which the government may have to strike with Europe during the post-Brexit negotiations might be a case of Europeans being expected to complete a visa application when they are entering the UK, rather than the current system under which EU citizens have complete freedom of movement and simply show their passport at British borders.

Mrs May told ITV’s political reporter Robert Peston:

“When we leave the European Union I want to have a free trade agreement, which will enable us to have the maximum access to trading with the single European market for both goods and services. “We won’t be members of the single market, but outside the EU, I want us to have a close, strategic partnership with the EU and a good trade agreement.”

Critics have called this the ‘have your cake and eat it’ approach and labelled it as unrealistic.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said that highly-skilled immigrants will still be welcome in the UK, while caps will be placed on unskilled labour and restrictions on tricksters hoping to slip into the UK via a student visa to any less-than-reputable learning facility.

The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt told The Guardian that:

It is an illusion to suggest that the UK will be permitted to leave the EU but then be free to opt back into the best parts of the European project, for instance by asking for zero tariffs from the single market without accepting the obligations that come with it.

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NEW BLOG: Manchester Asbestos Analysis Report Was Faked

An asbestos analysis at a refurbishment job in Manchester was bungled by a lazy analyst who chose to fake the analysis documents instead of carrying out the proper checks before asbestos removal. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard the case, brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and fined Barrie Lyons after he falsified an asbestos air clearance certificate.

The analyst, a resident of Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire, was on-site on 19 November 2015 to carry out the final asbestos inspection and accompanying air testing, following removal of asbestos at a shop refurbishment project (pictured below) in central Manchester. His contracted duties included thoroughly examining the area (and its immediate surrounds) where the asbestos had been extracted. Air samples were to be collected and evaluated, ensuring that safe air quality was maintained and it was kept substantially free from asbestos.

Despite having 29 years experience, Mr Lyons failed to perform a genuine asbestos analysis, as revealed by the HSE inspection. He handed in a falsified report to his employer/client with unreliable data. This meant that the site was potentially unsafe and an asbestos contamination could lead to someone developing a serious lung condition such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma or pleural thickening. The site needed to have a second asbestos clearance test carried out, causing a delay to the project and adding to the overheads.

Mr Lyons pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the court fined him £2,000 plus costs of £3,905.73.

HSE inspector Matthew Greenly said after the hearing:

"Asbestos analysts play a vital role in ensuring that areas are safe to enter after asbestos is removed. Mr Lyons sadly chose on this occasion to falsify his records which was a massive abuse of the trust placed in him by the client.

“This deliberate act increased the risk of numerous people potentially being exposed to asbestos, a risk Mr Lyons would be very well aware of from his experience, all to save a little time and finish the job early.

“It is hoped that the industry uses this case as a reminder that anyone involved in asbestos removal must do everything reasonable to protect people from a material which causes around 4000 deaths per year in the UK."

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NEW BLOG: What Will the Brexit Plan Mean for UK Immigration?

On Tuesday 17 January, Theresa May finally announced her much anticipated Brexit plan for the UK’s exit from the European Union, including how this would affect migration between the UK and Europe as well as the status of Europeans who live in the UK.

The 12 primary objectives which were set out in the speech, addressing European diplomats at Lancaster House in the St James’s area of London’s West End, include:

* Certainty wherever possible
* Control of our own laws
* Strengthening the United Kingdom
* Maintaining the Common Travel Area with Ireland
* Control of immigration
* Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU
* Enhancing rights for workers
* Free trade with European markets
* New trade agreements with other countries
* A leading role in science and innovation
* Co-operation on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs
* And a phased approach, delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit

The question on many peoples’ minds was how her policies would affect immigration and specifically the existing free movement arrangement with Europe.

In her Brexit plan speech, the prime minister said:

"You cannot control immigration overall when there is free movement from Europe… Brexit must mean control of the number of people coming to Britain from Europe."

The third principle of Ms May’s speech, ‘A Fairer Britain’, outlined this in more detail and proclaimed that the immigration system must serve “the national interest”. In clear terms, she stated that:

Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe.

It’s still unclear at this stage what the proposed alternative for the UK to free movement with Europe will be.

However she sought to calm the fears of Europeans who are already legally living in the UK and vice versa, by establishing deals with European states to guarantee the rights of people that have established private lives in countries other than their own.

This also applies to maintaining, and even building upon, employment law which was drafted by Brussels and has been legislation which British employers must abide by. These include the Working Time Regulations which affect working hours, rest breaks and annual leave entitlement, and the Equality Act which protects against discrimination.

After the speech, when questioned by journalists about the position on EU citizens, May replied:

“We recognise the importance of us welcoming people to come in to the UK.”

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NEW BLOG: British Passport is the World’s ‘Third Most Powerful’

The Passport Index, which ranks the global freedom that a passport offers, has been updated by it’s researchers, financial advisory firm Arton Capital, to declare the British passport to be the world’s joint third most powerful passport.

A British passport has a visa-free score of 155/200, making it as desirable and useful as the passports of the USA, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, France, Finland and Denmark, which all hold the joint third slot together.

Sweden and Singapore hold the second place ranking together while the world’s number one most powerful passport is that of Germany, which has a score of 157 and is a nation that allows free movement into Germany from 91 other countries. The index compares the travel freedom granted by the passports of 193 United Nations’ member states and an additional six other territories.

One of the small differences between the rankings for first place Germany and third place UK, and which explains those positions, is that a German passport holder can apply for a visa to enter Iran upon arrival there, whereas a Brit must apply for a visa for Iran before departing.

Similarly, Germans have free movement to the Marshall Islands, but the British must complete a visa application on arrival, even though the islands are managed by the United States. This can be found across a few destinations, where visa-free arrival is open to Germans but the British must complete a visa application form, either before departing or on upon landing.

The world’s countries also have an Individual Passport Power Rank. For 2017, the United Kingdom currently has a ranking on this table of tenth, thanks to a British passport granting the holder visa-free travel to 115 destinations with visas on arrival being needed for another 40. Germany was also top of this table, with visa-free movement being possible to 123 countries and visa on arrival being allowed to another 34.

Citizens from 91 countries from the index can enter the UK with their passport and no separate visa. These include countries that are outside of the EU such as New Zealand, Hong Kong and Mauritius.

This also means that many other countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, do require their citizens to apply for a visa before making a trip to the UK. In a comparison of 2016 against 2015, two countries lost their visa-free access to the UK and now require visa applications.

The UK has a ‘welcoming rank’ as a result of these figures of joint 51st, alongside such nations as Denmark, Belgium, Portugal and Norway.

The ‘least welcoming’ nations, with the most visa restrictions, were Afghanistan, Somalia and Turkmenistan, who officially allow zero other nations onto their shores without the proper visa in place.

The most welcoming countries include nations that might be considered to be third world. Or to look at it another way, these countries have relaxed border controls and allow foreigners in without any visa requirements: Cambodia, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mozambique, Samoa, Seychelles, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu and Uganda.

"The higher the VFS score, the better global mobility its passport bearer enjoys", an Arton Capital spokesperson said.

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NEW BLOG: UK Government Encourages New Indian Visitor Visas

The UK government and VisitBritain have together launched a new campaign to encourage Indian visitors to the UK to apply for immigration visitor visas now, while we are in the relatively quiet off-peak period of January and February.

Visa applicants should receive a decision on their visitor visa application much swifter than in the the peak period closer to the summer. In addition, Visa Application Centres in locations such as India will have empty appointment slots waiting to be filled.

Visitor visa applicants can now get their visas post dated as far in advance as three months. Applicants just provide their planned travel date, put in a request to have the visa post dated and the visitor visa will start the day before the date given, ensuring that it is valid in time for their journey.

The initiative was announced at the Destination Britain India event, which ran from 11 to 13 January at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (pictured below) in Pune, India, and hosted by the UK’s national tourism agency VisitBritain. The three-day tourism trade fair brought together over 75 travel agents from across India, plus more than 20 UK travel suppliers, for three days of networking and business discussions.

British High Commissioner to India, Dominic Asquith said:

"We are delighted that more and more Indians are choosing to come to the UK either on holiday or for business. The latest visa statistics show that visitor visas issued have increased by 6% in the year ending September 2016 and last year we issued more Indian visit visas than ever before.

“There has never been a better time to visit the UK – 2017 is the year of culture, which will see an exciting festival of events celebrating the vibrant cultural history of UK and India held in both countries.

"By making it easier for visitors to apply for their visas early, we hope that even more Indians will choose to come to visit the UK to see our world class heritage sites, enjoy our beautiful countryside and experience the vibrancy of our cities."

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NEW BLOG: Immigration Civil Penalty Notice Closes Bolton Business

Dankart Limited, a Bolton-based provider of administrative and support services, has gone into liquidation and earned its director a five year ban.

The firm employed a dozen foreign staff members illegally and had been served an immigration civil penalty notice for £60,000, which it has failed to pay the government.

Zamirahmed Munshi, a 31-year-old resident of Bolton in Greater Manchester, started the firm in April 2013 and was visited by Home Office Immigration Officers (HOIE) in October of that year. Under the the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 he had a legal duty to ensure that all his employees were British, European nationals or had the correct work visa. However Munshi had twelve people working for him that didn’t possess the right documents.

The immigration officers served Munshi with a civil penalty notice which effectively fined the negligent director to the tune of £5,000 per illegal worker and therefore per offence. At the time of the firm being declared insolvent on 19 December 2016, it still owed the Home Office £56,667 of the £60,000 immigration civil penalty notice debt, having paid only £3,333. The firm’s debts to creditors as a whole come to £117,476.

Cheryl Lambert, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, commented on this case and other recent disqualified directors by saying:

"These directors sought an unfair advantage over their competitors by employing people under the radar who were not entitled to work legally in the UK.

“If a company is found to be employing illegal workers and not carrying out the checks they are required to by law, then the Insolvency Service will take action to remove the directors from the market place, regardless of whether the company is in liquidation or not.

“This action is a warning to other employers to seriously consider their duties and obligations."

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NEW BLOG: Food Poisoning Ruins Dream Maldives Honeymoon

A couple whose Maldives honeymoon in December 2016 was ruined, by a double whammy of nearby construction and resort food poisoning, have had no response to their complaints from the management.

Honeymooner Nick and his wife chose the 5 star Velassaru resort after seeing the glowing reviews for, and stunning photography of the island, on TripAdvisor. The resort, a private coral island in the Indian Ocean, has earned a 4.5 star rating from nearly 1,500 reviews. The couple’s experience does however, show that even the most widely-acclaimed accommodation occasionally makes a slip.

Nick remembered the first impression that he received upon arrival and the first problem that he and his new wife hit:

"When you get there the island is beautiful and the room we were given was very modern and a good size. Unfortunately there was a lot of works being undertaken on the island and especially within the vicinity of our room. This meant it sounded like being next to a building site for a lot of the day. The works would start by about 8am and continue at times until 9pm. We thought about asking to switch rooms but when you walked around the island most of the rooms would have been affected by the noise. If we knew prior to booking that works were taking place we would have reconsidered. This is not what we consider paradise."

The resort certainly looks like paradise, judging by the resort’s website. White sands, blue sea, spa, water sports, tennis court, free snorkelling, private villas and bungalows, plus food and drink facilities that include five restaurants and two bars. However, it becomes difficult to enjoy all of those features if one of the restaurants gives you a gastric problem.

Nick explained that:

"The second and main issue we had during our stay is that both of us contracted food poisoning at the end of day 3. We spent the majority of the next 48 hours in our room and not far from the bathroom for the most part. As we were only in the resort for 6 nights, it virtually ended our stay. We did inform the hotel what had happened once we were well enough to leave the room but all they would say is no one else had reported anything. We both know that it was something the Velassaru served us that made us ill."

Nick also took a photo of an uncooked pancake which was served to him on the last morning of the stay as evidence that the resort were in the habit of offering undercooked, and potentially bacteria-rich, food.

Nick has tried to deal with the resort management himself and get a response, but has had no satisfaction so far:

"I have written to the front office manager, Mode, since my return to explain my dissatisfaction but have not received a satisfactory response. Currently I have no reply or acknowledgement to my email sent over a week ago. We are not the type of people who generally complain or write a bad review but having your honeymoon ruined leaves a bad taste in the mouth."

When hotel management don’t engage with afflicted guests after a holiday illness incident (with food poisoning as the cause), it’s disappointing to see that hotel commitment to customer service doesn’t extend in every situation.

In times like these, with a wall of silence from your holiday accommodation provider, your best option would be to talk to a holiday illness solicitor to assess how the situation can be salvaged.

Hotels need to be reminded that they have a responsibility to protect their guests’ health through adequate hygiene and accepted cooking standards.

In a final note of irony, after booking the honeymoon because of the stellar reviews on TripAdvisor, the couple have now left the Velassaru a fresh one star review, rating the stay as ‘terrible’.

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NEW BLOG: The 6 Visas That Need English Language Skills

A cross-party group of MPs and peers recently voiced the opinion that they believe migrants should have English language skills before entering the UK or should attend English classes. But which visas actually require foreigners to have English language knowledge or to take the English language test as proof of linguistic ability?

The all-party parliamentary group on social integration, of which Labour MP Chuka Umunna is the chairman, has called for immigrants to meet expected English standards in order to help improve integration into British society and reduce division. In response, the government offered that they are spending £20m on English language education for immigrants. Of course, integration requires more than just the breaking down of a language barrier and there are laws, traditions and customs to become aware of and appreciate.

Which visas have an English language requirement?

The majority of visas which come with an English language requirement are those for personal visas, rather than business visas. This makes sense if an immigrant is to try and adapt to living in Britain and assimilate into society. Providing evidence that you have knowledge of the English language can be achieved by holding an English qualification at the B1, B2, C1 or C2 level, or by holding a degree that was taught or researched in the English language:

British Citizenship: it’s understandable that people who are eligible to apply for British Citizenship must be able to converse in the main tongue of the British Isles
Human Rights: those wishing to exercise their human rights to persue a family life in the UK must pass an English language test
Indefinite Leave to Remain: AKA settlement. As with citizenship, becoming a long-term British resident requires a thorough understanding of English
Family Visa: Making an application to live with family in the UK (e.g. with a spouse or fiance) carries an English language requirement, if there’s to be any chance of success in a family visa application
Student Visa: If any application to study in the UK, even for just one semester, is to be approved, the applicant meet the required level of English language use to obtain a student visa
Entrepreneur Visa: In addition to having adequate funds, a business plan and previous business experience, a foreign entrepreneur must also be able to communicate in English if they are to be cleared to launch an enterprise on UK soil with an entrepreneur visa in hand

Which visas do not have an English language requirement?

Just a few visa types do not come with an English language requirement attached to them. These are entry clearances related to asylum, EEA visas, the visitor visa, sports/arts/entertainment visas, investor visas and representative of an overseas business visas. This is because refugees might be fleeing to the UK at short notice without time to study English; visitors might be tourists who are only in the UK for a short time; those in the leisure and entertainment sector might play a sport or perform stunts in a TV show without needing to even speak; an investor might just be the ‘money man’, with no managerial responsibilities or strategic input.

Are there any special exceptions?

People from the following countries do not have to prove that they have English language knowledge, as these are nations where English is widely spoken:

*Antigua and Barbuda
*The Bahamas
*New Zealand
*Republic of Ireland (for citizenship only)
*St Kitts and Nevis
*St Lucia
*St Vincent and the Grenadines
*Trinidad and Tobago

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