By: 14 January 2016
Government says fixed costs in clinical negligence will come in this October

The Government is intent on introducing fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence claims on is 1 October this year, despite having not released a consultation on the matter.

Litigation Futures has reported Health Minister Ben Gummer as saying that the fixed legal costs would be brought in this year in order to better manage clinical negligence claims through the legal process.

Labour justice spokesman Andy Slaughter had asked the Government this week as to whether it had considered delaying the introduction of fixed costs until the planned reductions in costs, as a result of the LASPO Act, began to materialise.

In response, Gummer said that the intention was still to introduce fixed recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims from 1 October, following the outcome of the public consultation.

“The department is aware that there are pre-Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 cases in the system and will be for a number of years,” he said.

“However, FRC for clinical negligence is not a new concept and had been proposed by Lord Woolf and Lord Justice Jackson in 1996 and 2009 respectively in order to better manage clinical negligence claims through the legal process.”

A consultation on reducing fees was supposed to be released in October last year but was pushed back to early this year.

Julie Say, a clinical negligence partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, responded to the news by saying that she was “dismayed”.

“It appears that the government is intent on introducing a fixed costs regime come what may and that the long-promised consultation will be nothing more than an exercise in how a fixed costs regime should work, rather than considering how clinical negligence cases are run and the drivers behind legal costs in such cases,” she said.