Fixed recoverable costs
Plan to introduce fixed costs for clinical negligence claims worry experts
The Government is investigating the extension of fixed recoverable costs across all civil litigation, including how to deal with differences between different types of litigation, according to civil justice minister Lord Faulks. His announcement came as Law Society Chief Executive, Catherine Dixon (formerly head of the NHS Litigation Authority), said she was ‘astounded’ that the Government would contemplate introducing
fixed costs for clinical negligence claims worth up to £250,000. The Law Society, APIL, the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers and the charity Action against Medical Accidents have joined forces to develop a scheme for fixed costs for claims up to £25,000.
The Government had wanted to introduce fixed recoverable costs from October 2016. However, the public consultation that the Department of Health was due to hold early in 2016 has still not appeared, and Ben Gummer, when still a Health Minister (he has now been promoted to Minister for the Cabinet Office), acknowledged the delay in a letter to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). Responding to the news, APIL said the delay ‘... will be a considerable relief to our members who will need time to prepare their businesses, and provide clarity and certainty for clients about changes to how cases are to be costed and conducted.’
If lawyers think
it’s hard to predict costs in such cases, experts will be just as hard pressed to read their crystal balls! When the consultation finally appears, expert witnesses involved in this type of work will need to make strong representations about how the proposed changes will impact on their ability to provide opinion evidence in this sort of case, particularly if the threshold is set as high as £250,000.