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Legal costs in clinical negligence claims “excessive”

3 August 2010

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The unprecedented record of £15bn in legal costs, reported in the The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA): Report and Accounts 2010, has stirred up a reaction from the Medical Protection Society (MPS), which believes action is needed to tackle the increasing cost of clinical negligence claims.

Tony Mason, MPS Chief Executive, said: “We must do something to stem the tide of excessive legal costs. For cases in the last five years in England and Wales where we have paid compensation of up to £100,000, claimant legal fees were more than 90% of the damages paid out.”

The government is currently reviewing this area, with a consultation on implementing the Jackson Review and a report from Lord Young on health and safety due in the autumn.

The MPS says it is encouraged by the direction of policy and would like to see the reforms recommended by Lord Justice Jackson taken forward. In particular, the MPS calls for a system which: 

  • Limits recovery of legal costs so that the amount is proportionate to the value and complexity of the claim.
  • Sees an end to the recovery of success fees and after the event premiums from unsuccessful defendants in clinical negligence cases.
  • Encourages the earlier resolution of claims.