APIL has urged the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) not to burden injured patients with the costs of building their cases in the upcoming low-value fixed costs scheme. The association responded to a DHSC consultation on disbursements in the new scheme for clinical negligence claims set to be enforced in April.
Guy Forster, an APIL executive committee member, emphasised the importance of disbursements for achieving a fair outcome for injured patients. However, he expressed concern that many disbursement costs would not be recoverable under the proposed new regime. While counsel advice fees are excluded from the scheme, except for cases involving children or vulnerable parties, Forster argued that seeking counsel’s guidance would be reasonable in various low-value clinical negligence claim scenarios.
Forster contested the linkage of a claim’s value to its complexity, asserting that it is a mistake to make such associations. APIL argued that successful claimants should be able to recover fees for collating, sorting, and paginating medical records within the low-value fixed recoverable costs scheme, promoting fairness in the recovery of reasonable costs.
Forster emphasised that injured patients find themselves making claims due to negligence and do not willingly seek harm. APIL also criticised the government’s reform implementation timeline and the lack of available detail. Forster raised concerns about the substantial gaps in the government’s plans, particularly the rapid implementation pace and uncertainties. For example, the destination of cases leaving the new system and the recovery process for inquest costs outside the scheme.
With only six months until implementation, Forster deemed the lack of detail in the government’s response to the 2022 consultation and the ongoing disbursement consultation extremely worrying. The uncertainties extend to where cases will go if they exit the new system and the recovery of inquest costs separate from the scheme.