By: 15 July 2015
Defendant lawyers are to blame for high NHS legal costs, says Simpson Millar partner

The NHS and its legal teams are to blame for spiralling claims costs as they routinely fight meritorious claims, according to Peter Stefanovic, a partner at Simpson Millar.

This Friday, the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) will publish its latest accounts, which are expected to show that for medical negligence claims worth £10,000 in compensation, lawyers are paid almost three times as much in costs.

Stefanovic has said that the NHSLA is trying to cover up its own failures, while restricting access to justice by calling for a curb on charges. He cited a recent Sunday Telegraph investigation which shows that seven of the top 10 law firms who make money from the process of medical negligence claims act for the NHS, charging 66% of the total fees.

“We only have to look at the fact that it recently emerged the NHS wasted a staggering £250M in litigation costs last year fighting victims of medical blunders,” said Stefanovic.

“Those victims will only have been paid these costs on winning their claim.”

“The Government’s spotlight should be falling on the NHS and its lawyers who fought these cases, often up to a fully contested court trial, and then been ordered by the court to pay the victim damages and costs.

“If the NHS and its lawyers had adopted a more reasonable approach to meritorious claims brought by victims of medical blunders instead of fighting cases which should have been settled, the taxpayer will have been saved millions of pounds. The Government’s latest proposals, if implemented, will quite simply put access to justice beyond reach for thousands of victims of medical blunders in the UK,” he added.