This article was published on July 1st, 2015
The article published recently regarding the capping of legal fees for clinical negligence claims is very misleading in that it is suggesting lawyers are routinely recovering fees which are out of proportion to damages received.
The Jackson reforms brought to the forefront of all cases, the issue of proportionality and we have thorough system whereby the courts can assess costs if they are deemed to be excessive.
The example given where the costs were in excess of £175000, for a claim which recovered just under £12000 is astounding however we have not been given the details so we cant really make an informed comment.
That being said I do agree with Terry Donovan from the law firm Kingsley Napley, when he suggested costs are sometimes driven up by delays in the NHS admitting liability.
We have had cases where the hospitals have denied certain actions have taken place and confirmed notes have been lost for months on end and yet through perseverance we have managed to trace the records and obtain the evidence necessary for a full admission to finally be obtained .
This shows the importance of instructing a specialist in the area. If fees were fixed would firms continue to such lengths to extricate the truth?
Just as the NHS can do more to address delays so too can the lawyers. We have taken over files from firms where the clients have been dissatisfied with the service they have been given and upon receiving the file we noted delays from the outset. Inappropriate investigations , erroneous letters of claim being sent to the wrong defendant …this is not an area of general law it is a specialist area which should only be practised by those who are properly trained and committed to their clients .
Rather than constantly cutting costs which will ultimately prejudice the claimant with the smaller value claims focus should be on doing the job properly – from both sides.