The Law Society has said that complex claims should be excluded from plans to introduce fixed recoverable costs in low value clinical negligence cases.
Responding to the Department of Health consultation on the matter, Law Society president Robert Bourns said that the new Government must remember that many clinical negligence claims are brought by people who need specialist legal advice to help them get the compensation they are entitled to in law.
“There is a considerable risk that those most affected by these proposals would be the vulnerable in society, such as the elderly and people who are disabled, whose cases can be complex and challenging but not necessarily the highest in value,” he said.
The Law Society has also said that if the Department of Health decides to introduce a fixed recoverable costs scheme, then not only should complex claims be excluded, but the fixed costs payable should enable expert clinical negligence solicitors to undertake even low value cases. If not, it warned, patients won’t be able to get the legal advice they need
“We believe that it will be key to set clear expectations for parties’ conduct and develop a streamlined regime that maintains equality for both sides,” it said, in its response to the consultation.
Bourns added that the issue was one that the Society had campaigned hard on, along with other organisations, to ensure that the original proposal to apply fixed fees to claims up to the value of £250,000 was dropped to £25,000.