Legal aid and experts’ fees
Sadly, as a result of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, the vast majority of clinical negligence cases are no longer in scope for legal aid. This is making it harder for some would-be claimants to obtain access to justice.
We helped win a small concession in that a small number of children’s cases where there is brain injury caused at birth are still within scope. However, even with these cases there are huge problems because the Legal Aid Agency has imposed limits on what can be paid to medical experts. No such limit applies to the defendant, creating an uneven playing field and making many cases unviable to be run under legal aid. We are speaking to the Ministry of Justice about this and seeking a fairer approach.
We believe scrapping legal aid for most clinical negligence cases was a big mistake. It is denying justice to some of the most vulnerable and deserving people. Legal aid provided more quality assurance as solicitors had to be accredited specialists in order to use it and the Legal Aid Agency could monitor cases. It would have saved the state money if they had allowed legal aid for clinical negligence cases rather than forcing people down the no-win no-fee route.