By: 26 February 2016
Appeal win for ARAG exposes wasteful NHSLA strategy, says Just Costs

Just Costs Solicitors has said that the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) is wasting public money by challenging ATE premiums on baseless grounds.

The firm’s accusation comes after it won an appeal against the NHSLA over the payment of an ATE premium on a policy issued by ARAG.

A Deputy District Judge initially disallowed the ATE premium in Axelrod v University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust, on the grounds that it did not insure the claimant against having to pay for an expert report into liability or causation.

At appeal however, the NHSLA had to accept that the policy did cover such risks. The costs solicitors acting for the Authority raised three further, technical arguments about the wording and information in the ATE policy, but the court held that the premium was recoverable in full.

Just Costs says that the decision in the clinical negligence appeal has, once again, confirmed the recoverability of after-the-event (ATE) premiums in such cases and highlighted the profligacy of the NHSLA’s apparent policy of raising successive technical challenges to premium recoverability.

“This case is just the latest example of a costs firm, acting for a clinical negligence defendant, raising an apparently spurious technical challenge to the recoverability of an ATE premium,” said Just Costs client services director, Mark Hartigan (pictured).

“It is difficult not to question whether such successive, ultimately futile challenges are an appropriate use of public funds.”

Mike Knight, ATE sales manager at ARAG, said: “The NHSLA often highlights the scale of claimants’ costs that it has to pay, but it is baseless challenges like this one, which we have seen time and time again, that drive up that costs bill significantly.”