Government Challenged In Battle For Legal Aid For Clinical Negligence

The Ministry of Justice faces a legal challenge over its plan to abolish legal aid for victims of clinical negligence. The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has issued legal proceedings for a judicial review of the decision.

AvMA argue that the Ministry of Justice's decision was both irrational and unfair. Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:-

"We regret that we have to take this action, but the Ministry of Justice has failed to listen to the overwhelming arguments put to it for keeping clinical negligence in scope for legal aid. Scrapping legal aid for clinical negligence is completely irrational whatever way you look at it, as well as grossly unfair. Ken Clarke's department might save a little money, but the cost will simply be heaped on the NHS. Some of the most vulnerable people in society injured by negligent treatment at the hands of a State body will be denied access to justice. And the NHS will be deprived of the opportunity of learning from mistakes which are often only recognised because of a legal challenge".

The proposal to abolish legal aid for clinical negligence is one of a range of controversial measures contained in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.