Fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence

The Department of Health and Social Care (strangely not the Ministry of Justice as this is a justice matter) completed a consultation exercise in April 2022 on proposals to limit the legal costs that claimant solicitors can recover when they win a clinical negligence case. At the time being this proposal is restricted to cases with total damages of £25,000 or less.

AvMA has submitted a detailed response to the consultation. We firmly believe that the proposals as they stand would mean that many injured people or their families will not be able to find a solicitor to represent them at the rates proposed and so will lose their access to justice. Even if they did get representation and won, they would lose significant amounts of money from their ‘damages’ to cover some of the costs that solicitors would no longer be able to recover from the defendant.

The proposals would also encourage a deny and defend culture in the NHS and mean that lessons will not be learned or organisations held to account, because people are no longer able to challenge denials. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society, including those from BAME communities and disabled people will be disproportionately affected.

Many other organisations and individuals share our concerns. Eight other patients’ charities including the Patients Association, MENCAP and MIND joined AvMA in writing jointly to the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP about our concerns. The majority of respondents to a similar consultation in 2017 were not in favour of the proposals.

We now await the Government’s response in the light of the consultation.