30 June 2015

Fixed Costs in Clinical Negligence Cases

The Government has announced plans for fixed costs in Clinical Negligence cases.

The simple stated aim is to save the NHS money.

Details are to be finalised but they include cases in which the damages do not exceed £100,000 with costs to be fixed by reference to a percentage of the damages.

As always the devil will be in the detail.

Mr Gummer, the Health Minister said: ‘The NHS must make sure every penny counts. Unscrupulously, some lawyers have used patient claims to load grossly excessive costs onto the NHS and charge far more than the patient receives in compensation.

‘These financial controls will ensure money is pumped back into patient care.’

There has so far been little comment from Claimant organisations.

Setting a cap at £100,000 would include the vast majority of clinical negligence claims.

In support of the proposals, various examples of excessive costs claims have been provided. In our experience there are plenty more examples the Government can rely on. However there are also numerous examples of well run, difficult cases in which the costs claimed are more than proportionate to the issues involved and the damages recovered. Will they ever see the light of day in the ensuing debate?

It is to be hoped that there will be a proper and full consultation in which all interested parties can make submissions (not just paying parties as seems to be the case so far) and which the Government will actually listen to.