The Law Society has responded to the Department of Health’s consultation on fixed recoverable costs in low value clinical negligence cases by clearly setting out that “It must be remembered that clinical negligence claims are brought by people who have been injured through no fault of their own as a result of negligent care. These patients need specialist legal advice to help them get the compensation they are entitled to in law.”
The proposal by the Department of Health seeks to apply fixed recoverable costs to claims that are worth up to £25,000 which would clearly include claims for people who have been very seriously harmed. The original plan was for fixed fees to be applied on claims up to the value of £250,000.
The Medical negligence team at Ringrose Law are inclined to agree with Law Society president Mr Richard Bourns that “There is a considerable risk that those most affected by these proposals would be the vulnerable in society, such as the elderly and people who are disabled, whose cases can be complex and challenging but not necessarily the highest in value.”
If the Department of Health decides to introduce a fixed recoverable costs scheme, complex claims should be excluded and the fixed costs payable should enable expert clinical negligence solicitors to undertake even low value cases. If not, patients won’t be able to get the legal advice they need.
A fixed recoverable costs scheme could work in simple low-value cases if there is an accompanying fixed process. This would be subject to strict and clear expectations for both parties in relation to conduct and claims handling.
If you would like some more information about the running of a medical negligence claim, contact our team on 01522 561 020. We have offices in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.