A Bill is going through Parliament that will withdraw the availability of Legal Aid for victims of medical accidents. It will also reduce the amount of compensation successful claimants receive. The Government believes that these measures will save the tax payer money and curb unmeritorious claims.
In future legal aid will not be available. Practically nowadays only children who have suffered a severe injury, such as oxygen starvation at birth, get legal aid. These are complex expensive cases which are usually strenuously defended. If legal aid is removed, most of these cases will not be pursued – they are far too expensive for the solicitor to fund the investigation on a no win no fee basis.
In future all successful claimants will have about 25% of their compensation deducted to pay legal costs. Currently this burden is on the party that caused the damage i.e. the defendant. It is proposed to transfer this burden to the victim. General damages will increase by 10% to compensate this but however you add up the figures the injured party will still be worse off.
These reforms are not good news for people injured as a result of medical malpractice.
Hilton Armstrong: September 2011