New Government proposals for fixing legal fees in medical negligence cases have been given a cautious welcome by lawyers.
“The fact that the Government has decided to tone down its original plans will come as a relief to injured patients,” said Neil Sugarman, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“Earlier ideas to fix legal fees in cases up to £100,000 or even £250,000 in value were far too radical, and would have put injured people into legal straightjackets when all they desperately want is to get their lives back on track after needless medical blunders.
“A fixed fee regime for more straightforward cases could be workable but the priority has to be the development of a quick and efficient system,” said Mr Sugarman. “It should then be possible to fix legal costs to reflect the speed and efficiency of the new process.”
“We now have an opportunity to continue our work with the Department of Health to try to ensure the legal process works properly and that patients will be able to obtain the legal help they need.”
“Above all, we need an end to the ‘deny, defend and delay’ approach by medical professionals when something has gone wrong, which is all too common,” he said.
“It makes legal proceedings take far too long, generates unnecessary cost and untold human misery for those who have been injured.
“The best way to cut costs is, of course, for the medical profession to learn from its mistakes and prevent needless injury from happening in the first place and we welcome the fact that this is acknowledged at the outset of the consultation document,” Mr Sugarman went on.
“But when the worst happens a quick, efficient route to compensation to help people get back on track is the very least patients should be able to expect.
“We look forward to playing our part in this consultation process.”
Notes for editors:
· Visit the association’s website at www.apil.org.uk.
- Mr Sugarman was speaking in response to the Department of Health consultation Introducing Fixed Recoverable Costs in Lower Value Clinical Negligence Claims published today (30 January).
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
- For more information contact APIL’s press and communications officer Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, out of hours m: 07808 768623, e: firstname.lastname@example.org or assistant press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman on t: 0115 943 5431, e: email@example.com.