The government has proposed a new scheme to the changes of fixed fees in Clinical Negligence to allow claimants and defendants to achieve faster resolutions in lower value clinical negligence claims. This is for claims valued up to and including £25,000. This would only limit the amount of legal costs which can be recovered by the claimant’s lawyer and not the amount of compensation a claimant would be able to receive.

The current procedure is that where a medical negligence claim succeeds, the defendant will pay the legal costs of the claimant, and there is no limit on how much these costs will be. Although, these are to be kept reasonable and proportionate.

It was stated by Maria Caulfield, health minister, that “In 2020/21, the average legal costs recovered from the NHS by claimant lawyers was twice the average amount paid out in damages to claimants, for lower value clinical negligence claims.”

These changes are reported to have taken into consideration access to justice for claimants and have ensured this is not affected.

This change is being put in place to minimise claims going to court and promote reaching resolution beforehand, however if agreement cannot be reached this does not stop parties from going to court.

There would be two resolution stages which would be built in – a ‘stocktake’ meeting (between the parties) and also neutral evaluation by a barrister to help resolve as many of the cases as possible. This would reduce the number of cases having to go to court and incurring the higher legal fees.

These changes have been introduced to enable costs to be more proportionate than they currently are. The gap between the compensation paid to claimants and the legal fees was constantly widening, and as noted, had reached almost double.

The suggested change would mean that the claims are split into either standard track or light track cases. In a standard track claim the costs will be limited to £6,000 plus 20% of the agreed damages. Whereas in the light track, it is proposed that recoverable costs would be up to £1,500 plus 10% of damages. Claims where more than 2 liability experts are required and those with genuine multiple defendants or those where limitation is raised by the defendant as an issue, are all excluded from the new changes.

It is important for claimants and defendants to remember that this new proposal will only limit the amount of legal costs that can be recovered by the claimants’ lawyers for lower value clinical negligence cases, not the amount of compensation that can be received.

The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 24th April 2022.

If you have a any queries regarding Clinical Negligence please contact our team on 0800 988 7756 or info@levisolicitors.co.uk