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Fixed costs for lower value clinical negligence claims

By Matthew Best, Senior Underwriting Manager

(Estimated reading time: 1 minute 57 seconds)

Putting ‘the cards on the table’… I would say that fixed costs can work – but only if they’re set at a reasonable level. If they aren’t, it will be the claimant who suffers.

If a light-track case justifies £1,500 costs, most firms who do this work profitably will almost certainly have to charge clients the unrecovered fees, as well as any potential success fee. That, in turn, will reduce damages to the claimant. I think the comment by Maria Caulfield (MP and Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care) about claimant costs being much higher than the defendants is one that needs to be looked at more closely.

What happened to the topic of the NHS learning from its mistakes? The HSCC were debating this in January, but it seems we have moved from that to ‘Let’s just cut costs’; surely the former impacts the latter and is therefore far more important?

Another solution to the issue of costs would be for defendants to stop taking stronger claimant cases all the way to trial and losing. Let’s not forget they have an early start on the medical records, so if the defendant admits liability early and engages in quantum negotiations, costs will inevitably be lower.

Let’s also not forget government funding pays defendant firms whether they win or lose. Perhaps that is an incentive for those firms to run cases as long as possible? Defendant lawyers need to earn a living, but their approach in many cases is actually adding to the costs they are seeking to reduce.

The role ATE insurers play in weeding out spurious claims is acknowledged, there is good dialogue between the claimant and defendant solicitors – so let’s make the most of that experience and knowledge during the consultation phase for fixed recoverable costs.

In the bigger picture, the NHS seems a ‘sacred cow’ to many but a ‘cash cow’ for PPE suppliers and management consultants – to name just two? The government seems to create negative headlines of its own making, almost daily and many of its apparent policy-based actions are being interpreted as seeking more favourable media coverage. In an environment of little clarity, lots
of cynicism and easily fuelled agendas will this include ‘NHS to be privatised’ headlines before too long?

If you would like to share your views, please either call me on 01483 577804 or email matthew.best@temple-legal.co.uk

Matthew Best

Senior Underwriting Manager
Read articles by Matthew Best

Matthew Best

Matt has an insurance background and joined Temple in July 2011 having worked for 4 years in a leading insurance company where he was dealing with personal injury work.

Matt’s experience allows him to undertake a key role in Temple’s ATE insurance personal injury and clinical negligence teams. He also participates in the assessments of delegated schemes that Temple provide with the objective of helping our customers make the most beneficial and appropriate use of ATE insurance.

He has started studying for this CII exams which he will sit in the near future, which he will then use to develop himself, further into the company in order to provide Temple’s customers with the excellent service they expect.

 

Read articles by Matthew Best