Patients and lawyers unite to offer ministers better solutions to clinical negligence legal costs than controversial plans to impose ‘fixed costs’

Published: 1 Dec 2017

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers have jointly agreed suggested terms of reference for a working party to reduce legal costs in clinical negligence cases below £25,000 in value.

Their proposal includes examining the causes of high costs and identifying all potential solutions. Any potential solution would be assessed for how they preserve access to justice and support learning for patient safety.

Up to now, the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice have only discussed a working party to work on a ‘fixed costs’ approach which many believe would be detrimental to access to justice and hinder patient safety.

Peter Walsh is Chief Executive of AvMA and chaired the group which drafted the suggested terms of reference. Speaking on behalf of AvMA, Mr Walsh said:

“The group has have come up with a sensible and practical way forward which would avoid the dangers and controversy of imposing a crude fixed costs scheme, which would harm both access to justice and patient safety. Patients’ groups and lawyers are united in calling for a more thorough and balanced approach, examining the real causes of high costs and choosing from all potential solutions, which will reduce costs whilst preserving access to justice and supporting learning for patient safety.

“The proposals provide ministers with the opportunity of getting to the bottom of the real causes of high costs and coming up with constructive solutions which are acceptable to everyone. AvMA calls on the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice to accept these suggestions.”