Support for industry challenge to Government proposal
The leader of Dutton Gregory’s specialist Medical Negligence Team, Melanie Reynolds, has publicly expressed her gratitude to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) for challenging a ‘fixed fee’ plan from the Ministry of Justice that could affect clinical negligence cases.
Last month, the APIL welcomed the launch of a consultation after it sent a formal ‘letter before action’ to the Ministry of Justice regarding a potential judicial review of fixed costs reforms scheduled to come into effect in October. The letter highlighted fundamental concerns, including the need for proper formal consultation, on the inclusion of clinical negligence cases in the new regime.
Senior Associate Solicitor and Head of the Medical Negligence Team at Dutton Gregory Solicitors, Melanie Reynolds, explains;
“The proposal laid before parliament on 24th May stated that if ‘breach and causation have been admitted’ by a medical establishment, then the case would be moved to a new ‘intermediate track’ and be subject to fixed costs. The rules as they are drafted include clinical negligence cases valued up to £100,000 which were never intended to be part of the extension.
“However, the proposed rules do not make it clear when those admissions must be made. If, for example, an admission of fault comes late in the proceedings of a case, many hours of investigation and preparation will have been invested and, if the case then gets shifted into the ‘fixed fees’ regime, the cost of the work done would not be covered.
“If this were to happen, it creates a big risk that solicitors will not take on clinical negligence cases of this value, which would result in a grave injustice to patients.
“I am hugely grateful to Chief Executive, Michael Benner, and his colleagues at the APIL for highlighting these fundamental concerns and the need for a thorough, formal consultation on the inclusion of clinical negligence in the new regime.
“Now the consultation is underway, I look forward to hearing its findings and conclusions.”