Part one of this three-part blog discussed Brexit and the upcoming Civil Liability Act. In part two, we look at fixed recoverable costs and the claims portal.
Fixed recoverable costs
Amidst the Civil Liability Act, the new Civil Justice Council working group has considered fixed recoverable costs (FRC) for clinical negligence claims worth up to £25,0001. This has received lots of scrutiny because the complexity and sensitivity around clinical negligence claims made against the NHS makes it difficult for claimants to represent themselves without professional legal support.
FRC could restrict access to justice altogether, were it not for specialist claimant law firms effectively and efficiently responding to such challenges. It is important that we maintain a system that doesn’t allow mistakes to go un-investigated.The Society of Clinical Negligence Lawyers (SCIL) has voiced its opinions on the unsuitability of FRC in this space. Its proposals represent a fairer way of reducing the costs payable by negligent defendants:
- The NHS should be accountable to its mistakes and take actions to prevent them from happening again
- Safety champions should be appointed to each NHS trust to manage the learning from mistakes process
- A formal legal process for these claims should be enlisted
- Sanctions should be in place for not co-operating with the new process to encourage compliance2.
IRN research has predicted that clinical negligence claims will rise3, with more pressure on nurses and doctors and more to go wrong with the innovation of new technology. It’s the right time to introduce a structured way of dealing with these situations. Otherwise confidence in the NHS may suffer as more horror stories break the headlines. SCIL’s proposals are backed by some in power, but time will tell if it succeeds.
When the claims portal was introduced, many liked the idea of having a process providing security and efficiency, quicker decision making, cost savings and more reliable validation4. With the Civil Liability Act set to increase the number of claims passing through the portal, it’s essential it remains in good working order.
1 IRN research paper (2018) UK personal injury market
3 IRN research paper (2018) UK personal injury market