The Society does not oppose Fixed Costs in principle as long as they are applied reasonably and proportionately and state that if a Scheme is introduced it must ensure that :-
a) Victims of clinical negligence are able to get justice for their injuries.
b)Â Clinical Negligence Solicitors can viably do low-value cases to a high professional standard.
c)Â Experts are incentivised to work on these cases and can produce meaningful evidence within any Fixed Fee.
It has long been recognised that the difficulty and complexity of clinical negligence work has drifted apart from other areas of Personal Injury Law. In addition there is an acceptance that as a consequence of the level and standard of work required in such cases and the necessary involvement of Senior Medical Experts that the costs of pursuing such cases are invariably high and can, in many case, outweigh the compensation achieved for the Client. Claimant Solicitors would contend that this is almost always caused or contributed to by the unco-operative manner in which the cases are dealt with by the Defendants and their extreme reluctance to accept responsibility in even the most clear cut cases.
As a result, imposing low level costs in such cases could lead to Claimants who have strong and justified claims but of low-value struggling to find legal assistance (which in such matters is crucial) to pursue their claims.
The proposal as it stands is to apply Fixed Costs to claims up to Â£25,000.00. The original plan was for Fixed Fees to be applied on claims up to the value of Â£250,000.00, which would have included claims for people who have been very seriously harmed.
The Law Society President, Robert Bourns, said :-
â€œIt 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. 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 valueâ€.
If the Department of Health decides to introduce a Fixed Recoverable Cost 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 will not be able to receive the legal advice that they need.
We have a committed and specialist Team dealing with clinical negligence claims and would be happy to talk to anyone who believes that they may have such a case.
Please telephone us on 0161 665 3502 or email [email protected] to enquire.