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In an exceptionally biased and poorly researched article the Daily Mail today boosted the Government’s agenda for slowly wiping out clinical negligence claims. Not long after increasing court fees to obscenely high levels, making the most serious injury cases, i.e. people left disabled or very badly injured as a result of negligence, very difficult for law firms to pursue, the Government, and more particularly, the NHS Litigation Authority, continues its drive to prevent injured people obtaining justice.

Using a handful of extreme examples the Daily Mail brands clinical negligence lawyers as “greedy” and implies they are the cause of the NHS’ current financial difficulties. The article cites a handful of examples in which the legal costs of the case far outweighed the compensation in the end and leads the reader to believe greedy lawyers simply submitted a very large bill for a simple case. What the article fails to tell the reader is that solicitors’ hourly rates are set by the Court and every bill can be challenged and put before a judge who considers the facts of the case and will only order what is reasonable and fair in the circumstances.

The result is that if legal costs are high there is a 100% certainty the NHS Litigation Authority dragged the case out for an unreasonably long time, forcing up the legal costs of the case to unnecessarily high levels, not to mention the anguish they placed the injured person or their family through. This is the true cause of inflated legal costs but the NHS Litigation Authority does not want the public to realise this and fortunately for them substandard journalism is at their disposal.

There is not one single example of the NHS Litigation Authority being investigated or questioned for dragging a case out for years that should have been settled right at the beginning, wasting tens of thousands of tax payers’ money in the circumstances – these people are supposed to be guardians of the public purse – why are they never held accountable?

Sometimes an injury might not be worth very much in terms of compensation but should that person not have the right to press on and seek justice if the NHS Litigation Authority unreasonably denies responsibility?

The solution the Government wants to force onto the public is to reduce lawyer’s fees but as successful cases are used to pay for those that do not succeed this will inevitably mean lawyers will not be able to take cases on that otherwise could have succeeded, meaning people go without justice, and also that salaries for clinical negligence lawyers are reduced, leading to skilled lawyers abandoning clinical negligence law, further reducing victim’s ability to win their cases.

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