Legal costs will be capped in lower damages clinical negligence claims from April 2024, the Department of Health has announced.
The new system of fixed recoverable costs will limit the amount claimant solicitors can charge when advising on clinical negligence cases of £25,000 or less.
In a statement announcing the new rules, Minister for Health, Maria Caulfield, said “By introducing fixed recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims, we’re ensuring a better balance between costs and compensation”. It is hoped the new measure will “support victims, speed up justice and protect taxpayers and NHS England cash”.
According to the statement, claimants’ legal costs have risen four-fold for claims of up to £25,000 over the past 16 years, while the amount spent by NHS England on clinical negligence claims has also risen from £0.6 billion to £2.6 billion, despite the number of claims remaining stable.
The has led to claimants’ legal costs becoming disproportionate and, on average, double what the claimant receives in compensation.
These costs are then funded from the core NHS budget.
The Government estimates the new system should save NHS England £500 million over the next 10 years, which could be spent on patient care.