It has recently been reported that the Department of Health is seeking to fix costs for medical negligence claims worth up to £25,000.
Such developments come on the back of the earlier suggestion that the Ministry of Justice had shelved prior proposals fixing costs in all injury and medical claims worth up to £250,000. Despite this lower threshold it has been suggested by the Civil Procedure Rule Sub-Committee that 60% of all medical negligence claims are worth below £25,000 and would therefore be caught by such reforms.
Consultations in relation to such reform have been ongoing for more than a year now and are continuing. The Department of Health has insisted that no final decision on the proposed threshold has been made. However it is understood that reforms could be put in place swiftly once the consultation process has been completed.
Specialist clinical negligence senior associate solicitor at Trethowans LLP Poole office, James Braund, stated,
“There remains a lot of uncertainty, at present, as to the likely final reforms which will be proposed. However the key issue is likely to be whether the proposed level of fixed costs are commensurate to the likely amount of work which claimant clinical negligence solicitors are required to put into such cases which are, by their very nature, usually highly complex. It will also be interesting to see the exact scope of such proposed reforms, for example, will the reforms allow fixed costs to be capped at a lower level if an early admission of liability is made – provided such fixed costs are competitive, if such fixed costs were to go hand in hand with such other measures such as early admissions, in order to ensure that the process is streamlined so that claimants obtain their damages more swiftly and defendants at a lower cost, then such proposals may well receive wider support than would otherwise be the case”.