Access to Justice under threat

Published: 4 Sep 2015

AvMA are gravely concerned about Government proposals to place caps on the amount of costs that can be recovered in clinical negligence cases, which would make access to justice impossible for many victims of serious clinical negligence. The Department of Health have just completed a “pre-consultation” on proposals which would severely restrict the legal fees solicitors could recover from the defendant in successful clinical negligence cases, based on the amount of damages (compensation) awarded. AvMA’s response to the pre-consultation points out that this would mean that many serious cases such as the neglect of elderly patients, the death of children and other fatal cases where there are no dependants,¬†would no longer be viable because the damages paid in these cases are so low. A formal consultation is expected in November. AvMA and others are calling on the Government to rethink their proposals and have a meaningful discussion with all stakeholders to establish how savings could be made without harming access to justice. No risk assessment of the effect of the proposals on access to justice was carried out before they were announced, and no account has been taken of the part unreasonable denials of liability and delays by the NHS play in escalating costs.