Controversial report on fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence published

Published: 17 Oct 2019

The Civil Justice Council working party on fixed recoverable costs has published its report. It contains controversial recommendations to restrict the costs that can be recovered by solicitors who win cases on behalf on injured patients in cases with less that £25,000 damages, and to introduce a system of ‘Early Neutral Evaluation’ to determine the outcome of cases.

AvMA is concerned that ‘Early Neutral Evaluation’ (essentially cases being determined by an independent barrister) is completely untested in clinical negligence. There is a danger that this ‘dumbed down’ approach will result in some injured patients and their families not being able to access justice. The Government has so far refused to consider how legal costs could be reduced without harming access to justice, fox example for bringing back legal aid for clinical negligence and tackling the deny and defend culture of NHS trusts and their lawyers, which causes delays and bumps up the costs by millions of pounds.

AvMA will be urging the Ministry of Justice and Department of Health and Social Care to consider the real causes of high legal costs in clinical negligence and how they can be reduced without harming access to justice.

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:

“In effect, these proposals would mean that some of the very patients who the NHS has harmed would lose out in order to save the NHS money. We urge ministers to get around the table with stakeholders to find better ways of reducing costs. ‘Fixed costs at any cost’ is neither sensible or fair”.