In a comment piece in the Law Society Gazette on a proposed fixed-costs scheme for claimant solicitor fees as a way of tackling the financial burden on the NHS, Law Society president Jonathan Smithers calls on the Department of Health to listen carefully to legal professionals who undertake the vital work of representing patients with clinical negligence claims. 

For the sake of the NHS and its patients, the Department of Health must listen to practitioners before moving forward with fixed costs.

The Department of Health is looking to introduce a fixed-costs scheme for claimant solicitor fees as a way of tackling the financial burden on the NHS arising from successful claims of clinical negligence.

But the reasoning behind the proposed cost-saving solution – the introduction of fixed recoverable costs for what it perceives to be ‘low-value claims’ – seems to be based on a number of misconceptions. The introduction of fixed costs, especially if set too low, could seriously undermine the ability of people harmed by negligent NHS care to receive the specialist legal advice they need to obtain the compensation they are entitled to in law.