For clinical negligence cases valued at less than £25,000, the Government is proposing changes to the way these cases are handled and fixed costs could become law in the next year or so.
A working group of the Civil Justice Council published a report recently on how a fixed costs scheme could work for clinical negligence claims, although the claimant and defendant representatives didn’t reach agreement on what the fixed costs will be or how solicitors’ fees can be incorporated into the costs.
“Any fixed costs scheme needs to be fit for purpose or there’s a risk of inadvertently limiting how easily society’s most vulnerable individuals can access justice,” says Trevor Morris, Solicitor and Director at Bartletts Solicitors.
“Lower value claims can still be hugely complicated and tricky, and the Government needs to ensure that specialist solicitors are still able to dedicate the time needed for a case if and when the costs are capped and fixed.
“If the fixed costs are set too low, it could mean many specialists are unable to take on certain cases where the costs are relatively low but the complexity of the individual case is high – and that would be a bad thing for people wanting to access the justice system.”
Clinical negligence claims vary from the minor to the major, and include a range of incidents such as misdiagnosis, delay in getting treatment, complications after surgery, and A&E negligence.
What Fixed Costs For Clinical Negligence May Mean For You
The concern is that victims of more serious negligence claims that are still relatively low-value, may be unable to access justice. Fixed costs could result in clinical negligence solicitors not taking on cases where the damages are relatively low if the amount of work required would make it unfeasible for them at the capped cost.
“The Government consultation is ongoing and we will continue to monitor developments closely,” adds Trevor Morris.
“Ultimately, our paramount concern is being able to deliver the highest standard of service and support to all our clients with cases of clinical negligence, as we do now – whether the claim relates to a relatively minor incident or to a life-changing set of circumstances.
“The fees are yet to be decided and we hope the Government considers all the factors involved with clinical negligence claims and adopts fixed costs regime which means those with genuine claims can still obtain legal representation.”
To find out more about our clinical negligence claims services or to speak to one of our specialist solicitors at our Chester or Wrexham offices about making a claim, contact us on 0800 988 3674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org