The Government has, last month, announced details of a proposed fixed costs regime for clinical negligence claims. The proposal follows on from costs being fixed for all personal injury claims worth up to £25,000 over the last few years.
The Department of Health has proposed a scheme which will apply for all clinical negligence claims worth up to £25,000. The plans remain under consultation (until 1 May 2017) and, at present, three different options have been put forward. Proposals also include looking to fix fees that medico-legal experts can charge in such cases.
James Braund, specialist personal injury and clinical negligence senior associate at Trethowans LLP’s Poole office, states that “one of the main concerns amongst Claimant clinical negligence lawyers is that such fixed costs could lead to significant problems with access to justice, with the risk that firms may be forced to look to junior and inexperienced practitioners to handle such cases (to ensure that the same remain viable as a business) or even turn down cases completely which may not appear straightforward. Clinical negligence claims are, by their very nature, often complex, involving complicated issues of law and medicine. Some claims will require significant work in order to investigate and pursue the same, whereas other claims may be more straightforward. Fixed costs will result in a broad brush approach whereby it is assumed that all claims are simple and straightforward, rather than looking at the actual issues involved in each individual case.”