Expert in Mind

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Expert in Mind's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Expert in Mind is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
Company Director
From starting her company in a spare bedroom to reaching the
final of Business Woman of the Year, Zofia Ludwig’s past ten
years in business have been anything but boring. Providing the
legal sector with experts in psychiatry and psychology, Zofia says
her service is underpinned by highly trained and specialised mental
health professionals. In spite of financial cutbacks, the business
continues to grow, with plans to expand year-on-year. She talks
with the
about the intricacies of GDPR, her team of experts
and the importance of teamwork.
We are an award-winning company providing the legal sector with experts in mental
health. I founded the company in a spare bedroom in 2008 and my efforts to grow
and develop the business have been recognised by my inclusion as one of the eight
finalists for Business Woman of the Year.
Our service is underpinned by a panel of highly specialised psychiatrists and
psychologists, based throughout the UK, who are experienced in providing reports for
legal proceedings. Our office is based in St Leonards-on-Sea and solicitors, barristers,
government bodies and local authorities contact us when they have a case in which
a mental health assessment is required. This can be in a multitude of areas such
as family proceedings, employment tribunals, personal injury, medical negligence,
immigration and criminal matters.
The right expert for the right case
The knowledge of our experts enables us to provide details of those who would be
suitable to assist on a case, dependent on the area of law, timescale, fee allowance
and expertise required. We provide appropriate nominations and, once instructed,
manage the case from start to finish. Each expert is assigned their own case manager,
so they have one go-to person who knows the ins and outs of each case. There are
many strands to every case and some have a long lifespan so having someone who
knows the intricacies makes it a seamless experience all round.
I, and all nine of our employees, value the importance of a happy, hardworking,
knowledgeable and driven team. We have a common goal: to ensure a professional,
efficient and personal service to our clients and our experts. This culture has served us
well and since 2015, the company has seen case instructions, the expert panel, the
team and our turnover at least double.
A whole team effort
The whole team take an active role in driving the business forward and continuing
the expansion that has been taking place over recent years by building on valued,
established relationships with clients and participating in linking to newones.
Career growth for team members is equally important. One of the case managers
who started at the company in 2014 has completed a management training course
and was promoted initially to office manager and now business manager – taking on
more responsibility regarding the running of the company. She was a finalist for the
»Company Director:
»Established in 2008
»Based in St Leonards-on-Sea,
East Sussex
»Services: Mental health experts
for legal proceedings
»No. of employees: 10
Expert in Mind
Young Achiever Award at the Personal
Injury Awards in December 2019.
The team are actively involved in charity
events and this year alone they have
raised nearly £4,000 for Guide Dogs for
the Blind, Access to Justice and Cancer
Research by taking part in events such as
half marathons, charity tea parties and
the ten-kilometre London legalwalk.
Adapting to financial cutbacks
In 2014, severe cuts were made to
legal aid which meant that expert fees
were almost halved overnight. Initially,
as a result, case instructions reduced
dramatically and unfortunately it meant
that a number of valued experts did not
continue in this field.
For us, this brought a period of great
adjustment and sadly resulted in several
redundancies and an office downsize.
Fees are now lower than ever, and yet
high-quality experts are still required for
their valuableopinions.
Of course, the cuts and the continued
scrutiny of the Legal Aid Agency have
had major effects on legal firms, with
several smaller businesses closing. The
LAA are taking an increasing amount of
time to settle invoices and are then often
disputing the figures, meaning legal firms,
and companies like ours, are having to
spend valuable time trawling through old
files to justify costs. These delays mean
that money that is received from the
LAA is being used by legal firms to cover
running costs and staff salaries rather than
being passed on to settle outstanding
invoices. From our perspective, this can
mean that invoices are not settled for
lengthy periods, and increasingly are
never settled, as more firms have no
choice but to go intoliquidation.
In extreme cases, we have issued legal
proceedings against a solicitor where a
large sum of money is owed and despite
having been to court on numerous
occasions, no payment has been received.
For a small business this is incredibly
costly, and it seems unbelievable that
there is no safeguard that avoids such
expensive, repetitive court attendances
with no resolutionforthcoming.
The intricacies of GDPR
The introduction of GDPR in 2018 has
brought both positive and negative
effects. While it is beneficial to have
guidelines, especially those which
protect the privacy of individuals and
their personal data, there are many
ambiguous areas. We have had several
cases where a parent who has been the
subject of a mental health assessment in
a family proceedings case contacts us for
copies of the notes and documents that
an expert has seen in relation to the case
and to their children. If it is the case that
the child has not had contact with this
parent for some time, it is a very grey
area as to whether the parent should be
allowed sight of suchdocuments.
However, neither the ICO nor our legal
advisors have definitive answers for
specific cases such as these, which can
be upsetting for the person wanting to
obtain the information, and frustrating
for us as a company with the risk of
breaching GDPR. It would help greatly
if there were a go-to for these complex
situations that have arisen as a result of
the introduction of GDPR.
Going forward, we plan to continue
our expansion, gradually, to maintain
the high calibre of experts by hand
picking new additions to our panel, and
to ensure that we never compromise
the personal service for which we
The Expert in Mind
team’s motto is
“teamwork makes
the dream work”
We have a
common goal:
to ensure a
efficient and
service to our
clients and our

This article was sponsored by Expert in Mind. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development