Introducing fixed costs for accessing legal assistance in clinical negligence claims would limit access to justice for injured victims and increase the chances that victims do not receive the level of damages they deserve, Thompsons Solicitors has stated in response to a recent government consultation.

In the consultation, ‘Introducing Fixed Recoverable Costs in lower value clinical negligence claims’, the government proposes putting fixed limits on solicitors’ legal fees in lower value clinical negligence claims, despite evidence showing how fixed costs, introduced in some personal injury cases in 2012, lead to poor outcomes for people injured through no fault of their own.

Samantha Hemsley, National Head of Clinical Negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, said “With this consultation it is clear that the government is hell bent on extending fixed costs into more and more areas of personal injury, despite the implications of this for injured people seeking damages.

“Thompsons has always opposed fixed costs because of the risk, as seen in the miners’ compensation claims, that some law firms will under-settle claims rather than fight them to try to keep their costs below the fixed limit. These attempts to extend them into clinical negligence, a notoriously complex field where insurers representing defendants often complicate proceedings and delay accepting liability, only demonstrates the government’s ignorance of the reality of these kinds of cases and what victims have to go through.

"With this consultation it is clear that the government is hell bent on extending fixed costs into more and more areas of personal injury, despite the implications of this for injured people seeking damages."

Samantha Hemsley
National Head of Clinical Negligence at Thompsons Solicitors

“The consultation document suggests that these changes are being proposed to reduce the money spent by the NHS on litigation. While no one wants medical accidents to happen or the limited funds of the health service being diverted away from frontline services, this cannot come at the expense of victims’ right to seek compensation or access to justice for those injured through no fault of their own. NHS staff are dedicated and highly professional but the pressures being exerted by the government on them means mistakes are, sadly, inevitable. If the government really wanted to bring down litigation costs the answer is to tackle the root causes of clinical errors by giving the NHS and its staff the resources and support they need.

“Instead, if the government was re-elected and proceeded with its plans, it would be the victims of medical negligence who will bear the brunt.”

Click to read Thompsons’ full response to the consultation.