It has been reported that there has been a change of policy at the Department of Health with regard to the proposed introduction of fixed costs in Clinical Negligence cases.
Where the proposed limit had been mooted to be as much as £250,000.00, it is now proposed that there be consultation over fixed costs up to £25,000.00 (the limit of the Fast Track).
The Department of Health also confirmed that no final decision had been made over the limit, but it would seem eminently more workable up to the limit of the fast track than it would be within the multi track.
Previous plans for fixed costs had also been considered to apply to all of civil litigation. This consultation relates only to Clinical Negligence and it remains to be seen whether that is as a precursor to fixed costs being rolled out in other areas of civil litigation.
The limit of £25,000.00 is said to cover 60% of cases, so will still have significant implications for many Clinical Negligence practitioners. However, for many lawyers that will not represent 60% of their revenue.
This would seem to be a step in the right direction and comes on the back of more good news for the Claimant arm of the profession, following the announcement that the government was to reconsider the proposed legislation announced by George Osbourne with regard to whiplash claims.
There must be a balance struck between reducing legal costs and maintaining access to justice. It is essential that those that have been injured through no fault of their own are not denied access to justice because Solicitors are not prepared to take on their case. Any fixed fee must be realistic to avoid such an outcome.